Recently because of the lack of TV I’ve had to watch I decided to re-watch the whole of 30 Rock (which I ranked as 11 in the greatest comedies of all time). It took quite a long time (138 episodes!) but I got through in the end and have hence decided to write a number of 30 Rock based articles, and this is the first of those.
The list will only include characters which were listed as being starring characters in the show, so no cool recurring characters I’m afraid. There are only 14 starring characters, so if you haven’t made the list it means your character must have sucked (I’m looking at you Toofer). So here we go.
10. Frank Rossitano
A possibly shocking person to start the list off with, I imagine that Frank is a favourite of many people but for me he is over-rated. I never really understood why Frank received top billing in the starting credits before much of the other cast. I get what Frank is meant to be, and I feel like I should like him but for some reason I don’t, I’m indifferent to him. I don’t like him and I don’t dislike him, he’s just sort of there.
The one thing I do like about Frank is his look. I like his silly hair and his beard and his general look of confusion and Italianiness. The best part about Frank is his hats, and I think that it says a lot about the guy that his funniest parts in the show are often what he is wearing.
She’s hot…..that’s basically her character and Katrina Bowden plays it very well. Very, very well.
Jonathan, Jack’s weird assistant who disappears in season 6 and then sporadically re-appears in season 7 comes in at number 8. What makes Jonathan great? It is partly his over bearing love for Jack which borders…wait, crosses the border of what an employee employer relationship should be, but also his utter hate and disgust of Liz.
The show lost something when Jonathan wasn’t there for season 6 and most of season 7 (as he got replaced by some white guy called Gabe….meh), because his interchanges with Jack and Liz were generally a strong part of the show and were easily executed. They also missed out on Jonathan trying to fill the void Avery left in Jack’s life in season 6 but who knows this is all speculation.
That’s right Lutz is better than Frank! God Lutz sucks. He is the biggest loser of all the writers (even the ones who don’t have words), which is an accomplishment considering how many losers there are in the TGS writing team. It is funny how everyone treats Lutz so badly, he is also one of Jack’s least favourite people in the world (understandable).
Lutz has many memorable scenes; such as his truffle shuffle or when he peed himself. Lutz is a loser and in real life you wouldn’t want to live within 50 miles of him, but on a TV show he’s awesome because he is such a loser and that’s what makes him great.
6. Liz Lemon
It is hard on Liz to only have her at 6 in the list, but this is often the way of things when you are the straight character in the comedy. Liz is the everyman (everywoman?) of the show; she is the one anyone watching can relate with. Ok she has hangs up and at times maturity issues, but when you compare her to everyone else in the show she is remarkably normal.
Liz is the glue that holds the show together and it wouldn’t be the same show without her, and Tina Fey is the creator of the show. There aren’t that many, quality comedy TV shows which place a woman as the main character, and it is a nice change to the general white male with brown hair clone that tends to come out in network comedies. Liz Lemon probably has a longer lasting legacy as a quality leading lady in a male dominated scene, than she does as a funny character in 30 Rock.
5. Jenna Maroney
So Liz isn’t the best female on the show, instead it is the psycho (sort of) best friend of Liz and acting goddess. Jenna is the stereotypical representation of an actress (I say stereotypical, I mean realistic), she’s nut. She is selfish, self-absorbed and have I said nuts yet?
Pretty much everything about Jenna is funny; she says words in a funny manner, she tells funny stories about celebrities (many involving Mickey Rourke) and she does funny good looking thing that only people who are good looking could really understand (I get it, cause my mummy says I’m beautiful [this is a joke, I’m not 8]).
Jenna’s relationship with Paul is also one of the strongest parts of the show; it is weird yet so nice at the same time. There is nothing quite like seeing a blonde woman making out with a man dressed as the same blonde woman to pull the heart strings; I often wiped the tears away.
4. Pete Hornberger
Aw, poor Pete. Is there anything good about Pete’s life? He hates his job, he hates his kid, he hates his wife (and she’s fat), he is an underachiever and worst of all he is bald (god I’d hate to be bald, thankfully I have a head full of thick luxurious hair).
Pete (much like Liz) is an everyman and (much like Lutz) he is a loser. In many ways Pete is there just for Liz to play off of, he is her partner against crime and the craziness of his colleagues. Pete is one of the few genuinely nice and normal guys on 30 Rock and more so than Lutz his being a loser is endearing.
3. Tracy Jordan
The craziest character in 30 Rock (which is quite an achievement in itself) comes in at number 3. At times Tracy comes over as a complete buffoon, who doesn’t know anything about anything and really could be a danger to the world. At other times he comes across as a genius, as he gives insight into areas which you’re like ‘is this the same Tracy Jordan?’
Tracy often acts like a spoiled child, and similarly to Jenna has lots of self-absorption problems. Tracy is often at his best when he is interacting with the other characters in the show; whether it is Jack, Liz, Dr. Spaceman or Grizz and Dot Com.
On the face of it, much of what is funny about Tracy is more on the nose than the other characters; after all he is the most universally understandable comedy character. However Tracy has a lot of good 4th wall breaking moments and use of word play.
2. Jack Donaghy
Shocking? Perhaps, after all Jack Donaghy often gets all the credit for being the best character in 30 Rock and if someone were to say this to me I wouldn’t disagree. Jack epitomises cool, he has great hair, gets lots of good looking ladies and is rich; everything a man wants to have.
Jack more than any other character in the show excels when he is playing off his rivals. Jack has loads and they regularly appeared throughout the show; Devon Banks (his arch nemesis), Colleen Donaghy (his over bearing mother) and Kaylie Hooper (his nemesis for the CEO of Kabletown).
Jack’s strongest relationship though is with Liz; the mentor-mentee relationship is the most consistently strong parts of 30 Rock, in many ways it is the basis of 30 Rock. When Jack goes into one of his speeches about what Lemon has done wrong and about his past life and business acumen (most of which is totally outrageous and generally sounds untrue, but how can it be Jack Donaghy wouldn’t lie) you often get lost in his crystal blues and those pouty lips and just accept what he is saying as fact.
It is understandable that Alec Baldwin won so many awards for playing Jack Donaghy, after all it is a good performance and he is a great character. However what makes it truly remarkable is that unlike Jack Donaghy (a hardcore Republican), Alec Baldwin is a staunch democrat, so think how hard it must have been for him to criticise Obama and Clinton (greatest president ever? I know he’s my favourite). Also don’t forget how crazy Alec Baldwin is, yet you wouldn’t say that Jack Donaghy was crazy; once again showing the incredible acting skills of the best Baldwin brother.
1. Kenneth Parcell
So my number one starring character of 30 Rock is Kenneth Parcell, that chinless hick page that looks like a thumb. Is there another character like Kenneth on TV? I can’t think of one, he is an anomaly. Is he gay, or asexual? How old is he? Is he actually a genius or just a simpleton? Who knows the answers to any of these questions? I do not.
It is hard to describe what Kenneth does and why it is so excellent, but the easiest way to do it is by describing him as a 5 year old in an adult (who knows how old he is). He says things like “I don’t like to swear sir, but no thank you”, and it’s hilarious. It doesn’t read hilarious, it is all in the delivery; something 30 Rock as a whole does well, but Jack McBrayer does particularly well.
That is the funny thing about Kenneth, on paper he isn’t a funny character; a Christian, who is nice to everyone and doesn’t like doing things which are considered wrong; it sounds boring. Yet you watch him on 30 Rock and it isn’t, it is incredibly well done with fantastic writing and acting, and that is why Kenneth Parcell is the best 30 Rock character.
So there you go the 10 best starring characters in 30 Rock, I know you will be looking forward to the other two 30 Rock posts that I am planning to write. The top 3 were the hardest to separate, because they were easily the 3 best characters in the show and I wouldn’t have any problem with someone telling me that either Jack or Tracy were better than Kenneth (although I disagree) because they are both great characters.
Feel free to leave a comment on the list or about how much you love 30 Rock and how much you can’t believe that it got cancelled because of low viewing figures when other shows which are pish like the Big bang Theory manage to pull in 3 times the viewership. All comments are welcome and don’t forget that you can find all the latest content from this fine blog by checking out the Facebook and Twitter pages.