Last night, at a fundraising gala for something-that-I-have-never-heard-of-because-I’m-not-fancy, Alec Baldwin was given an award to thank him for his dedication to the art and culture of NYC.
Prior to his acceptance speech, he told reporters that the 2011-2012 season of 30 Rock will be its last. Their contracts are expiring, he explained, and Tina Fey is going on to a career of directing and writing film. Of course, I thought this was a joke.
A sick joke. But I have been told that it is not.
After I rocked back and forth in the fetal position under my desk for an hour, binged on vending machine chocolate, and threw up in the handicap accessible stall in my office, I got to thinking: This is probably a good thing.
It sounds crazy even looking at the words: this is probably a good thing. But it’s true.
Baldwin has been open since last season about the fact that his contract ends in 2012, and he was planning to leave the show for what he calls a more “normal life” away from the camera. Though I hate him a little bit for it, you have to respect a man who is willing to walk away from that much money doing something he loves. What I truly appreciate, however, is that someone else realized what a crapshoot it would be if he left. We’ve all seen what’s happening to The Office (sorry, kids), and I shudder to imagine who they would try to replace Baldwin with.
The thing is – regardless of what kind of amazing writers you have, when you lose a cast member, the dynamic changes. Think about the first few episodes of 30 Rock– of course, fans saw potential and stuck with it – but it was so stiff, choppy and awkward to watch. That’s pretty typical with any sitcom, but what sets 30 Rock apart is the way that the characters continue to develop and tangle themselves in each other’s lives. The way that tiny details are called back throughout seasons. The way that guest stars are used just long enough, and tucked away for later visits. The way that the entire cast genuinely seems to enjoy working together.
Without Baldwin’s character, the show would lose its glue. And nothing stays together for long without that.
Even though Tina and Alec neglected to call me (It’s fine. Whatever.) to chat about this change, I am soaking up every last second. We can all be certain that season five will end on a high note, and season six will be phenomenal.
We have to remember that there are plenty of good shows on television now, but NBC – get your shit together. You have Community. You have Parks & Rec. Please find some other solid shows written by comedy writers and don’t let your Thursday night fall behind. I beg of you.