TOP 10: Fake Shows on “30 Rock”

April 19, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

In addition to being an absolutely terrific sitcom on its own, NBC’s “30 Rock” also poked fun at the television landscape with a host of TV show parodies. Over the course of its seven-season run, “30 Rock” either referenced or produced bits referencing more than a dozen fake NBC shows. In honor of our Best “30 Rock” Episode episode of the podcast, we’ve curated our list of our favorite “30 Rock” show parodies. Note that we only included shows that we actually saw on screen, otherwise the brilliant “Child Hell Flight” would for sure have a place on our list.


Best “30 Rock” Episode

Best “Saturday Night Live” Character

Best 2000s Sitcom

Best “Golden Girls” Episode

Honorable Mention: “Black Frasier”

“We never would have stooped so low on ‘Black Frasier.'” Not only a funny gag on its own, this fake show is a potent reminder that, as Twofer said, there are major pockets of black culture that white Americans know nothing about. “Black Frasier” was huge on BET! We aren’t ranking it higher because it’s one joke, used as the set-up for a larger spike. But it was fruity and precocious!

10. “Gals on the Town”

“Having friendship, having it all — or maybe just a great pair of shoes. One of them has to be Asian. Can they be good at their jobs?” When I tell you I HOWL every time I hear the “Gals on the Town” theme song… Included in the episode where Liz is stuck on a plane grounded on the tarmac for, seemingly, days, with failed NBC shows as the only form of entertainment. It’s a reference to the period where networks were desperately trying to be relevant by launching sanitized “Sex and the City” rip-offs like “Cashmere Mafia” and “Lipstick Jungle.” The fan casting for this series is dead fucking on. Can they be good at their jobs?!

9. “God Cop”

Coming later in the series, “God Cop” is not the funniest of the parodies. But it is notable for the way it is integrated into the plot of the show, as the best of the parodies are. Jack, trying to tank NBC’s fall schedule, conceives of a new show in which an NYPD police officer gets a new partner, the actual God Almighty, played by Jack Donaghy himself. The bits where God’s partner tries to comprehend God’s ridiculous rules of engagement are cute, but it’s Jack communicating his grand plan TO Liz via scenes of the show that are actually broadcast that make this one special. The tagline “Crime just got a new worst friend” is pure “30 Rock” absurdity. Bonus points for the Adolph Pas joke.

8. “Homonym”

There are several great fake game shows on “30 Rock.” “Homonym” is only shown briefly as an example of Jack’s crapola new programming, but it’s a great 20-second bit in which “Tonight Show” announcer and “SNL” writer Steve Higgins hosts a competition in which the players have to guess which version of a soundalike word Higgins is holding. It’s always the other one! The fact that the show actually tests homophones, not homonyms, is the icing on the cake.

7. “Los Amantes Clandestinos”

A brilliant take on a Spanish telenovela, as well as a reference to NBC/Universal’s sister network, the Spanish-language Telemundo. “Los Amantes Clandestinos” is integrated directly into the plot when Jack discovers that the grandmother of his then-love interest, Elisa (played by Salma Hayek), detests him because he is the spitting image of the villain on her favorite telenovela, the evil Generalissimo. Jack attempts to use his power at Telemundo to get the Generalissimo killed off, clearing the path to befriend Elisa’s grandmother. But it all goes wrong when the actor playing Generalissimo (also played by Alec Baldwin) goes “broken arrow.” Escandalo!

6. “Gold Case”

Kenneth’s “brilliant” riff on “Deal or No Deal,” in which one of the cadre of models holding suitcases is secretly holding $1 million in gold. “Ohhhh, gold’s real heavy isn’t it?” Genius. This bit became one of “30 Rock”‘s viral moments, was the first of several appearances by tennis star John McEnroe, and gave us the brilliant negotiation scene with Jack, Kenneth, and NBC brass. At least Kenneth got a clock radio out of it. I need to go see Moon Vest over at CBS. Better grow out my finger nails!

Top 10 Lists

5. “Dealbreakers”

Liz and Jenna are invited on a daytime talk show to recreate Jenna’s “Dealbreakers” “TGS” skit live, but Liz emerges as the star, dispensing brilliant relationship advice for the studio audience and TV viewers alike. “You have sexually transmitted crazy mouth. Dealbreaker!” “Nope! Your fiancee’s gay. Look at him, look at you. Classic case of fruit blindness.” “Only one snake in the bed! Dealbreaker.” The bisexual line has not aged well, but we still love this bit. I use “classic case of fruit blindness” regularly. Initially featured in “Kidney Now!” this bit would be revisited in the absolutely hilarious “Dealbreakers #001” episode, in which Liz crashes and burns in her big spinoff series moment.

4. “Bitch Hunter”

“Bitch Hunter” is only featured in a few seconds-long clips, but it is so high because it is actually important to the origin of the show-within-the-show that is the core of “30 Rock.” The only reason NBC picked up “The Girlie Show” is because of the flack the network got after picking up the action-drama “Bitch Hunter,” in which Will Ferrell plays a character who burst into women’s rooms and bridal showers guns a-blazin’, terrorizing women. Later in the series, “TGS” is forced to do a Mother’s Day special as a mea culpa after NBC’s ill-fated decision to re-air the pilot of “Bitch Hunter.”

3. “Queen of Jordan”

“Queen of Jordan” could easily top this list; the first “Queen of Jordan” episode in Season 5 is legendary, a flawless send-up of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise centered around Tracy’s wife, Angie, played by Sherri Shepherd. Everything about the first go-around is top tier, and again, the fake show is woven into the narrative of the overall “30 Rock” series. Unfortunately, the second go-around for “Queen of Jordan” in Season 6 is less successful, and made what was once special somewhat less so. But still: incredible concept, hilarious performances, and: HAM.

2. “America’s Kidz Got Singing”

Whoever realized that Jenna’s final form would be the Simon Cowell-esque mean judge on a televised singing competition deserves an Emmy. And making it a KIDS singing show? *chef kiss* The improbably named “America’s Kidz Got Singing” was a recurring element of the show for its later seasons, and we personally think Jenna’s mean catchphrase — “Go jump back up your mother” — should be more widely used. Especially in post-Rowe America!

1. “MILF Island”

“MILF Island” the episode is a beautifully layered confection, building on the power play between Jack and Liz, trying to navigate which of the “TGS” staff broke trust and said hurtful things about Jack to the press. It’s set against the “Survivor”-inspired reality show involving hot moms competing to arouse teen boys. Liz’s personal arc mirrors “MILF Island” icon Deborah. “She manipulated. She lied. She got a pretty bad staph infection.” Is it referring to Liz or Deborah? We’ll never know. Both played the game so well! Shout out to Rob Huebel for the fratty Jeff Probst impression (redundant, sorry). We still want to hit this show.

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