Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rock The Boat

Alan Vanneman is one of my favorite writers on film, but I'm not sure if I can trust him on TV. He reviews 30 Rock here and, in addition to being way too cutesy, has some questionable observations.

First, he calls it Tina Fey's love letter to herself. I can somewhat see this--Liz Lemon (that's one "m," Alan) is a shlumpy, lovable loser version of Tina Fey, but hey, you write what you know. Is it that unusual to make the lead sympathetic? Even on SNL she often did self-deprecating bits. It's hard enough to get a show on the air--30 Rock originally looked like NBC's bad show about sketch comedy, while Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 was the one to watch.

I think he also exaggerates the boost that Fey's Sarah Palin impersonation gave 30 Rock. It gave the show a bit of a bump, but it's never been a huge hit, and was kept on for good demographics and the fact that NBC was in such trouble it couldn't afford to cancel anything that gave them hope.

But worst of all, in condescending to a show he likes, Vanneman writes:

Black folks on the show are uniformly fat, jolly, and dumb (but funny and good of heart!), with the exception of token Harvard spade "Toofer" (Keith Powell), who is, naturally, buttoned down and boring.

This is absurd. If anything, the show has gone out of its way, in a running gag, to show that Tracy Jordan's African-American entourage, Grizz and Dot Com, are actually quite educated and intelligent (and not always that jolly).


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