Posted Apr 14, 2011 @ 11:52 PM
Because they raised the bar, would be my answer. They raised it with those first two seasons and in doing so, attracted an audience that was not only on the smarter side but also loyal enough that they would pay attention to their every move. They can’t really expect to invite such an audience to the party and not expect them to comment or question when things go as drastically and obviously wrong as they have in the last two seasons (some adjustments with the current season notwithstanding). Sometimes I think that the fans of this show have more of clue what’s true to these characters and consistent for the show and take both more seriously than the people creating it. Not that I wish themselves to take themselves too seriously. But I do think they could afford to take it a little more seriously than they seem to, try a little harder to produce something worthwhile and consistent and lasting.
The comparison to “Two and a Half Men” kind of backs this up. Talk about shooting for the middle (or the gutter). Because to me, they are not even in the same class, not even of the same species. I rank “30 Rock” within the same class as actual comedy shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Rec” and “Community” and “Scrubs” when it was on and so forth. In fact, it used to be top of the whole heap. Now, it sits right in the middle, happy to do nothing to distinguish itself, happy to say nothing even remotely noteworthy. On the other hand, “Two and a Half Men” belongs with “Hot in Cleveland” and many other such mediocre offerings in the category of mindless, cheesy entertainment (and this is me being kind to the creators of these shows that I personally don’t find entertaining but rather excruciating). In fact, I’d call it the lowest of the low.
Having said that, while I can’t imagine that the audience of "THM" is too intellectually discriminating, there may well be a fandom out there which does discuss the behaviour and motivations and relationships of the cringe-worthy characters. And while I admit I have never sat through an entire episode, I did recently read with interest an article in an Australian newspaper about a woman reviewer who forced herself to do so and found it as repellant and confusing (as to its success) as I always assumed I would. Point being, Tina is a bit off-base in assuming that other, even much weaker, shows don’t come under such scrutiny. If anything, I think the media tends to still give glowing, overly forgiving reviews to this show which has long since past its prime and is reguritating former glories. At least, in Australia they do, they just revert to the default praise, despite the flaws that are noticeable to anyone paying real attention.
It’s tempting to say that Liz Lemon is as poor a representation of modern womanhood as Charlie Sheen’s character is of modern manhood. But even knowing as little as I do about the show, I think that would be a major exaggeration. What *is* common and obvious between the two is a glaring avoidance of true intimacy. Only in the case of Liz Lemon, that avoidance is not coming from within so much as it is coming from her off-screen counterpart. While I totally understand Tina’s discomfort with playing more romantic storylines and scenes, I also think that what you actively avoid will eventually come back to bite you in the ass. You might as well face it because it’s only going to keep showing up. Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if Liz Lemon was just single and lovin’ it. But she’s not and never has been. From the very beginning, they established her as a character without much experience or expertise in this field but who did want to find real love and settle into all its conventions. And it was certainly okay for Tina to avoid these storylines in the first three seasons of the show as there was a wealth of other storylines to explore instead, including those with her nearest and best match to date, Jack.
But having limited themselves by shutting down on the richness of that central relationship as well as resorting to a far broader style of comedy in general, there is no longer a wealth of opportunities open to the show or its main character. And we are now getting to the pointy end of the series (I assume, I *hope*) where they’re going to have to create some satisfying conclusion for her. Considering all we loyal fans know of her, it simply isn’t plausible to leave love out of the equation. As much as Tina enjoys “Election”-like, sad-sack humor, not everyone does, especially when saying goodbye to a well-loved, though much maligned, character after many, action-packed years. Of course, they don’t seem too concerned with providing a satisfying end for the only other character on the show that used to possess any depth. So maybe it’s a false assumption to think they will fulfill Liz Lemon’s journey, find a match comparable to her, pair her with someone with whom she has connection and chemistry and pull the whole thing off with some touch of warmth and continuity when they haven’t done any of this with Jack (assuming there isn’t more to his story which I still hope there is). In a way, considering her aversion to romance, it would have made much more sense to pursue the Jack and Liz route instead. Then she could have more easily avoided other relationships, they could have continued on the path of their low-key, bizarre little romance, just playing the tension and slow progression of that, then at the end, she’d just have to give him one kiss and BLAMMO! – satisfying conclusion.
Instead, Liz will presumably need to start all over again next season, hopefully giving us something more like Floyd and Drew, and not like Wesley and Carol. The good news is that if/when Tina nuts up and tackles this – and on the final season of the show she created would be the best time and place to pull out all emotional stops – the inexperience and discomfort she feels, if she allows herself to reveal it, could make for a lovely off-set to the romance. It could, as it has done in the past with Floyd and Drew, simply add an extra level of relatability, reality and humour to her character, the scene and the storyline. It’s a case of use it…or lose the audience that’s been watching for years, waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable pay-off.