A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sitcom from former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey garners some of its laughs with sexual innuendo and racial stereotypes, but it's the strained working relationships among distinctly different personalities that adult viewers will enjoy (and possibly relate to) most. Teens can probably handle most of the language and sexual content, but parents may want to pre-screen -- or, better yet, watch with them to discuss the show's more mature topics.
What's the story?
Created by Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey and co-produced by SNL's Lorne Michaels, 30 ROCK takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of a spoofed version of network TV. The show centers on Liz Lemon (Fey), who's the head writer of the fictitious variety program The Girlie Show, which stars her best friend, Jenna (Jane Krakowski). But the unexpected death of Liz's boss and the entrance of his condescending replacement, Jack (Alec Baldwin, who's won awards for the role), sends her into a tailspin. At Jack's insistence, Liz hires arrogant, unpredictable movie icon Tracy Jordan (SNL's Tracy Morgan) to perk up the cast ... and, hopefully, the ratings. As extreme personalities clash and egos swell, Liz must find a way to maintain her sanity among her motley crew of co-workers.
Is it any good?
30 Rock (which gets its title from the nickname of the building that houses NBC's studios in New York City) brings together a great cast -- rounded out by Scott Adsit, Jack McBrayer, and Judah Friedlander -- that expertly delivers the show's off-the-wall humor. Sharp writing backs up their strong performances and encourages viewers to ponder the agendas of the network TV executives who call the shots.
One particularly funny aspect of the show is its satirical take on network TV in particular and conglomerate business in general. As a head honcho at NBC-GE-Universal-Kmart (a business with its hand in every cookie jar?), Jack clearly enjoys making decisions based on whim and expounding on personal mantras, to his subordinates' great confusion. No doubt many adult viewers will enjoy the chance to chuckle knowingly at such a boss. Sexual humor, questionable language, and casual drinking are constants on 30 Rock; parents may want to join their teens for this one so that they can discuss the adult themes that pop up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media shapes our views. Who decides what we see on TV? Why are some shows green-lit and others not? What makes TV shows successful? What types of shows are popular today? What does that say about our society? Why do classic TV shows (Happy Days, I Love Lucy) seem so innocent today? Was society more genteel back then, or did the networks just candy-coat what viewers saw?