Top Ten 30 Rock Episodes, as Selected by BUST Magazine Staffers

by Debbie Stoller

Over here at BUST, we’re afraid. We’re afraid of tonite, because then we will see the very last episode of 30 Rock ever, and there will never be another new 30 Rock episode, and we will all be forced to watch episodes we’ve already seen.

But maybe that won’t be so bad. Although we’re not quite sure how we can go on in life without our regular Thursday night routine of 30 Rock  ‘n night cheese,  at least with the show in syndication we can have the pleasure of watching it every night from now until eternity. In particular, we’ll be looking forward to seeing these again, our top 10 30 Rock episodes.

1. “Believe in the Stars”, Season 3, Episode 2

Liz has to fly to Chicago to try to get out of jury duty there, which she has previously been able to get out of by acting like a crazy Princess Leia.

On the flight, she takes some relaxation meds, and her drug-addled brain imagines that she is seated next to Oprah Winfrey (played by Oprah Winfrey). Other things may have, and most likely did, happen on this episode as well, but it’s the scenes with Oprah that will cling to your brain for days, weeks, and years after seeing it. In fact, the episode is full of such great lines that it’s hard to know where to start.

First, as soon as Oprah sits down–self-help Goddess/Guru/Buddha/Jesus that she is–she elicits a stream of self-reflective word-vomit from the star-stricken Lemon, who spits out a monologue that is perhaps the highlight of the episode: “I’m trying to adopt a baby but my job is making it impossible because my work-self is suffocating my life-me. I’m Liz Lemon and I lost my virginity at 25. I saw the show about ‘Following Fear’ and it inspired me to wear shorts to work. It didn’t go great. Do you know Tracy Jordan? Meh, I took a pill earlier. I didn’t get my September issue of ‘O Magazine’ do you have the number for subscriptions? Haha, why would you? Blah! I eat emotionally. One time at summer camp I kissed a girl on a dare but then she drowned! Aaaand here comes some more stuff… I hate my feet, and one time I had a sex dream about Nate Berkus but then halfway through he turned into Doctor Oz. Has that ever happened to you?”

Later, another glorious moment involves the following interaction:
Oprah Winfrey: I want to help you. What can I do?
Liz Lemon: Can you please say “Please welcome Liz Lemoooooooon!”
Oprah Winfrey: No. 

And then, of course, the part where Oprah reveals her latest “favorite things” to be “salt water taffy from Rhode Island. sweater capes, calypso music, paisley tops, Chinese checkers, and high heeled flip flops that lift your butt and give you a workout.”

It is, all of it, quotable gold, and one of my favorite things, ever.

-Debbie Stoller, Editor-in-Chief

2. “Reunion” Season 3, Episode 5

Season 3 is home to an astounding number of good eps, but nearly every moment of this one is hardcore LOL fodder. Liz goes back to her high school reunion, remembering her young self as a shy loner, but it turns out she was the worst bully in her class, and is nearly Carrie-d on stage. Jack gets emo and pretends to be one of her classmates. (Liz: “How is this working? You’re 12 years older than anyone here.” Jack: “Rich 50 is middle-class 38.”) And Tracy and Jenna get jealous when they think Kenneth is trying to upstage them by making jokes in the elevator. This ep is also home to one of the best 30 Rock flashbacks ever, when Liz thinks her plane is going down, and she starts confessing her dark secrets to Jack: “One time I laughed at a blind guy eating spaghetti! Sometimes I pee in the shower if I’m really tired! I saw my grandparents making love once and I didn’t leave right away!”

(Here’s a scene from that episode recreated using Sims. Random!)

-Molly Simms, Senior Editor

3. “The Pilot” Season 1, Episode 1

My fave episode of 30 Rock is the pilot for a few reasons:

1. For one brief shining moment, TGS was still The Girlie Show, and I could imagine a cool alternate universe where a Saturday Night Live-style sketch show that’s all a0 Rockbout the laydeez made it onto network TV.

2. And speaking of cool alternate universes, there’s also a bizarro world version of the pilot out there where we can see clips of Rachel Dratch as the original Jenna. I love Jane Krakowski, but I wish they had found a more permanent role for Dratch on the show because she’s the bees knees:

3. And my absolute favorite moment of the pilot, the part where I knew Tina Fey was writing this show just for meeeeeeee, was when she met Jack for the first time and he analyzed her to a hilarious tee:
“I got you: New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, you’re overscheduled, you’re undersexed, you’ll buy any magazine that says ‘Healthy Body Image’ on the cover, and every two years you take up knitting for…a week.”

-Emily Rems, Managing Editor

4. “The C Word” Season 1, Episode 14

This was the episode that introduced my 17-year-old self’s favorite word—fungdark. It also boldly addressed two of the series’ elephants in the room: Tracey’s reaction to being treated as a racial stereotype, and Liz’s relationship to being a bitch. Between Tracey’s sharp and unrelenting critique of Jack’s Connecticut social circle, Liz’s impassioned Designing Women monologue, cameos by both Rachel Dratch and Charlyne Yi, and a basket-full of kittens, this episode was 30 Rock at its irreverent best.

-Katrina Day, Editorial Intern

5. “Christmas Attack Zone” Season 5, Episode 10

My dad and I watch this episode every December because it’s chock-full of extra snark, thanks to special guest Elaine Stritch, who plays Jack’s mother, Colleen. But really, what isn’t to love about this episode? Jenna and Paul’s New Queer’s Eve Black Swan couple costume, Avery and Jack’s Christmas card (“Happy Holidays…is what terrorists say. Merry Christmas from Avery and Jack”), Colleen’s disapproval of Avery’s pre-marital pregnancy (“I see you brought the bag…that my bastard grandchild will come in”), and Liz Lemon’s roller-skating transvestite look-a-like (“I’m not Rick!”). And of course, there’s this:

-Tess Duncan, Blog Editor Intern

6. “Don Geiss, America and Hope” Season 4, Episode 15

This is my favorite episode because of the porn titles. “Assatar? The Lovely Boners? The Hind Side? Fresh-Ass: Based on the Novel ‘Tush’ by Assfire?”
Basically, I love the name Assfire.

-Callie Watts, Subscription Services and Crafty Lady

7. “TGS Hates Women” Season 5, Episode 16

This episode is like some kind of amazing feminist circle-jerk, beginning with the show’s send-up iof Jezebel with a website named “Joan of” (“It’s this really cool feminist website where women talk about how far we’ve come and which celebrities have the worst beach bodies. Ruth Bader Ginsburg!” ), which claims that TGS hates women. Liz wants to refute this accusation, telling Jack “I support women. I’m like a human bra. Which is why I want to hire a young comic named Abby Flynn to come on as a guest writer. ” But Abby FLynn turns out to be a seemingly dimwitted, baby-voiced blonde who makes inappropriately sexy comments at every turn. In other words, she’s every dude’s wet dream, and Liz’ feminist nightmare. (We’ve always wondered who this Abby Flynn was supposed to be a reference to. Abby Elliot? Sarah Silverman? Anna Farris?)

Liz decides she is going to save Abby from her anti-feminist ways, and meets up with her near a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt for what she thinks will be a conciousness-raising smackdown. Liz tells Abby she doesn’t have to keep putting on a “sexy baby” act. Abby replies that it’s not an act, and that she is “a really sexy baby!”

But Abby also manages to put the feminist shoe on the other foot. When Liz explains that she’s just trying to help Abby, Abby replies, “Really? By judging me on my appearance and the way I talk? And what’s the difference between me using my sexuality and you using those glasses to look smart?” 

But when Liz discovers and old YouTube clip of Abby from years gone by, showing her to be a dark haired, snarky stand up comic, she decides it is her duty  to reveal Abby for the phony she is. Unfortunately, the plan backfires when we find out that Abby is using a disguise to hide from her abusive ex-husband, and it turns out that it’s Liz who gets accused of hating women. Well, I guess that’s the way the feminist cookie crumbles. -Debbie Stoller, Editor-in-Chief

8. “Kidney Now” Season 3, Episode 22

When Jack’s dad needs a kidney, he calls in favors from a massive cast of famous musicians, who create a “We Are the World”-esque song to raise awareness. (“Just give a kidney / to a father or a dad / Just give a kidney / we hear it doesn’t really hurt that bad.”) But the real star of this episode is Liz Lemoooooon, who finds her new calling: being a tough-talking advice-giver for women in crappy relationships. She finds fame with the catchphrase, “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” and on a Rolanda-type talk show, she starts instructing audience members. Lemon dismisses one girl’s complicated dude-related question with, “You have sexually transmitted crazy mouth, deal breaker.” When another lady has a clearly gay boyfriend, Lemon explains, “You have a classic case of fruit blindness. Deal breaker.”

-Molly Simms, Senior Editor

9. Any episode with Elaine Stritch

It’s pretty hard to pick a favorite, as I’ve never met an episode that I didn’t like, but I have to say that any scene with Elaine Stritch (Jack’s mom Colleen Donaghy)  is a winner for me. Inappropriate, vengeful and slightly racist, Colleen is a mean broad in a necktie who tells it like it is.

Here is a clip where we first meet Colleen:

And here is one of her many, searing comments to Liz:
“Oh, for crying out loud, Liz. You see, that’s what feminism does. It makes smart girls with nice birthing shapes believe in fairy tales. Stop waiting for your prince, Liz.”

10. The Clip Show that Never Aired

My relationship with Liz Lemon is like Manti Te’o’s relationship with his girlfriend: a sham. I love what I do know about her, and I know I’d like her if I met her in person, but instead, I deflect specific questions and use what I do know about her as a means of connecting with other like-minded people without having to do the legwork.

(That thud you just heard was my head hitting the desk as I hang it in shame.)

HOWEVER! Here are the clips that have enabled me to stay culturally relevant while making me laugh until I cry: Jack role-plays with Tracy Jordan
So un-P.C. it’s scary–but this will never not make me laugh until I can’t breathe.

Jack and the tuxedo
“What am I, a farmer?”

Cheesy Blasters
Hey, Meat Cat!

-Maggie Carr, Events and Promotions Coordinator

BTW, one thing none of us will miss: The craptacular opening credits. So lame, so poorly done, and only a small step up from the Barney Miller opening credits.

The closing credits were not as unfortunate, and at least they gave birth to this bit of genius:




And finally, the song we like to play here at BUST every Friday that isn’t payday Friday, in order to make it a good Friday anyway. One of our faves, but was never even in an episode:





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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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