How Tina Fey Made Waves with 30 ROCK

By: Mar. 06, 2020
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

How Tina Fey Made Waves with 30 ROCK

In 2006, hot from her seven-year stint as head writer at Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey made her first appearance as Liz Lemon on televisions across the country on 30 Rock. Reminiscent of Fey's previous television show, Lemon was the head writer and creator of the sketch comedy show The Girlie Show, later shortened to TGS. She tries to "have it all" and throughout the seven seasons and 138 episodes of 30 Rock, she eventually does find fulfillment in both her familial, friend and work relationships - but not with trials and tribulations.

Some claimed the show started off rocky, but it soon found its footing and continued to rise in popularity. Despite the top tier writing and comedic performances, the show struggled to rise in the ratings. As Jennifer Eum wrote for Forbes, "There was no denying the fact that ratings were still only a tad above 'just OK.' However, the depth of character development and smart writing made way for an exclusive cult fan base, along the same lines as Arrested Development's die-hard viewers."

The sitcom, now considered one of the greatest television series of all time, also starred Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander and Alec Baldwin. The series went on to earn over 100 Emmy nominations with 16 wins, including consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series awards for its first three seasons.

As Jack Donaghy (Baldwin), the network executive who later becomes Lemon's mentor, explains in the pilot episode, she is "a New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happy-about-it, over-scheduled, undersexed, buys any magazine that says 'healthy body image' on the cover and every two years takes up knitting for ... a week."

Jenna Maroney (Krakowski) contrasted Lemon's character drastically and acts as the perfect foil. She's erratic, amoral, glamorous, narcissistic and insecure and often relies on Lemon as her rock. Despite the two being friends and roommates in Chicago long before the show, they often get on each other's nerves, but are overall supportive of each other's careers.

Over the course of the series Lemon grew, as anyone would over seven years, but remained the relatable underdog. While the show explored her romantic relationships and THE JOURNEY of adoption children, the series always focused on her work and her professional success.

On top of writing for television, Fey wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls and has gone on to star in films, such as Baby Mama, Date Night, Sisters and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. She was the co-creator, writer and executive producer of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, alongside 30 ROCK showrunner Robert Carlock. The duo also wrote for and executive produced Tracey Wigfield's comedy GREAT NEWS and are working together on a currently untitled project starring Ted Danson, which is set to air on NBC sometime during 2020. For the NBC streaming platform Peacock, Fey is serving as the co-creator, executive producer and writer alongside Meredith Scardino on Girls5Eva a comedy about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the '90s that reunites to give their Pop star dreams one more shot.

She also wrote an autobiography in 2011 titled "Bossypants," which topped the New York Time's bestseller list. For her recording of the audiobook, she also received a Grammy nomination Since then, she has ventured out even further and adapted Mean Girls into a musical of the same name, which earned her a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical.

Fey has been met with great praise over the years, including ranking No. 1 on The Guardian's 50 Best Comedians of the 21st Century list. As Stuart Heritage explains in the piece, "She remains precisely as exacting, hilarious and influential as she's ever been. Remove any of her projects from your life, with the possible exception of Wine Country, and the world immediately becomes a much worse place. A true legend."

This is part of a series for Women's History Month focusing on women in television.


To post a comment, you must register and login.