Thursday, October 2, 2014

On 30 Rock and Character Development

30 Rock was indisputably one of the greatest comedies of all time. It might not have been as avant-garde as Arrested Development, as culturally/linguistically timeless and influential as Seinfeld, as deconstructive as Community, as relatable as The Simpsons, as stylistically groundbreaking as The Office, or as incisively satirical as South Park or Chapelle's Show. But 30 Rock blended elements of all of the above while redefining the limits of meta-humor and churning out high-quality jokes at a breakneck pace unparalleled in the ghosts of television past and present. It's my favorite show of all time, which makes it all the more irksome to hear the common refrain that the show "lacks character development". Now, the importance of character development to a sitcom's value is debatable (see: Seinfeld vs. Friends) - and there's no doubt that 30 Rock was more concerned with making a work of comedic art than a character-based comedy. But is it even true that the show lacks conventional character development? Is it really fair to characterize 30 Rock as a pure joke machine with static characters? I would emphatically argue otherwise.

Friday, September 19, 2014

On New Girl's Winston dilemma

On Tuesday, New Girl debuted its fourth season with an episode that gives the impression of a re-pilot attempt; the show has made a clean break from its failed Nick&Jess romance and returned to the show's template of humorous hijinks that serve to ultimately re-emphasize the familial (decidedly non-romantic) relationship between the roommates. Ideally this show would give equal time to all of its characters, but since the start of season 3 the show seems to have firmly strapped Winston into the passenger seat of the car driven by Jess/Nick/Schmidt. This would be fine if this hierarchy accurately reflected the characters' relative value. I am, however, of the opinion that Winston is clearly the funniest character on the show. Season 3 systematically morphed Winston into a veritable maniac, one who combines George Costanza's neurotic, volatile insecurities with Cosmo Kramer's oblivious eccentricity. Lamorne Morris's superb acting and commitment to the bits allow Winston to steal every scene by aggressively subverting the expectations of both the other characters and the audience.