Rather than ease you into my favorite characters gently with someone agreeable like Ron Swanson, I’m going to go with my true personality and smack you right in the ass off the bat.
Karacter: Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Karacter Kompendium: Liz Lemon is a 30-something, single, Manhattanite TV writer. She’s the head writer on a fictional SNL parody (a parody within parody, I suppose), dealing with her own quirks and foibles, as well as those of everyone around her, from corporate VIPs, to Teamsters, to temperamental actors.
Yep. That’s right. You totally hate her now, I know. Leftist, elitist garbage person. Except she’s not. With only a few exceptions, I am Liz Lemon. She is me. And I’m going to tell you why.
Principles Uber Alles
The opening scene of the very first episode of 30 Rock shows Liz Lemon attempting to buy a hot dog from a dirty water vendor in NYC. As she patiently waits her turn (because she has fucking manners!), someone approaches from the other side and orders a hot dog. A Karen-fight ensues and our heroine ends up buying the entirety of the vendor’s inventory. I love this scene, because we see someone who is principled and believes in unwritten workings of human interactions. But we also see someone who has a tendency to be too rigid and is perhaps trapped by the very principles that make her tick.
Later in the series, Liz’s feminism explodes in a smorgasbord of rules and edicts intended to produce absolute male/female equality. As expected, Liz’s rigidity backfires and we’re treated to this delightful comeuppance
(apologies for the quality – NBC did not see fit to make this scene an “official” clip)
The Trouble With Men
Oh, boy. Liz just does not know how to pick ’em. Throughout the series, we see a veritable Seinfeldian struggle with mate-choosing. Liz feels a need to have a partner, but is also misanthropic and set in her ways. She wants to have closeness, but hates having her space invaded. This leads to some…mismatches, as she tries to find the balance she seeks. We have Dennis, the rowdy loser; the young coffee delivery guy that wants her to go out at 10pm; and Floyd, the recovering alcoholic lawyer from Cleveland, whom she gives up to stay in NY, partially because she loves NY more than Floyd, and partially because she’s terrorized by change.
Here we see Liz’s meta conflict between her need to stay in her safe sandwich-eating bubble, and her desire to express herself and be close to a man
The last video is a good segue into Liz’s relationship with food. Liz’s knowledge of a vast array of junk food becomes a running joke throughout the series. She consumes her sandwiches, Cheesy Blasters, and Night Cheeses with both gusto and guilt. I’m not sure this has any deep allegorical meaning other than a running joke, but, well, I can relate. Don’t mess with her Sabor de Soledad! And don’t mess with my Sno-balls!
The one overarching trait that I love most about Liz, is despite her rigidity and tendency to self-seriousness, she really does want to be a nicer/better/more generous person. She wants to enjoy her fellow humans. She sometimes recognizes her own faults, and sometimes her friends and colleagues point them out to her. I love seeing Liz overcoming awkward encounters and major hang-ups and learning her way through life.
So, yes. Liz Lemon is a leftist elitist New Yorker. But she’s nerdy, and quirky, and fun, and principled, and complex.