Six seasons in, 30 Rock is still catnip to me. It’s a showcase of the most lovable characters, the best jokes, and constantly surprising storylines. Kim Jong-Il is a semi-regular 30 Rock character, guys. Even South Park couldn’t pull that off.
Tonight, 30 Rock’s final, abbreviated seventh season kicks off with an episode titled “The Beginning of the End.” That alone gets me misty-eyed, so without further ado, let’s honor this unbelievably funny series by revisiting its finest gay moments. Let Will Arnett’s frosty little smirk lead the way.
1. Devon Banks is the most nefarious gay man in TV history.
Will Arnett is simply smashing as Jack Donaghy’s gay, snickering, diabolical adversary Devon Banks. Arnett has earned four Emmy nominations for the guest role, and if I had to pick a best (and most gay) Devon moment, I’d have to choose the time he feigned disgust while wrestling a muscular dude on Don Geiss’ estate. “You’re so strong! You’re having your way with me! Your back is like a barrel of snakes!” he clamors while being pinned down. Priceless.
2. Randy Lemon updates Liz on gay slang
The lovely Jeffery Self joined 30 Rock as Liz’s naive gay cousin Randy in 2010, and when he wasn’t staring cockeyed at a pillow-loving James Franco, he was educating Liz about gay slang. “I’m not going home until I give my cool cousin a makeover!” he hollered at her. Liz, attempting to relate to him, responded, “Is it gonna be fierce?” Without skipping a beat, he answered, “It would be if it was 2006.” Sigh. Take that, Liz.
3. Prissy Jonathan’s divine mean streak
Jonathan (Maulik Pancholy) is the one 30 Rock character whose best work mostly occurred in the first season, but as he gradually opened up about his feelings for Jack (even singing Badfinger’s “Without You” during a key moment of passion), his gayness became more apparent. But his funniest quote — and there are many to choose from — is the cruel barb he lobs at Liz during season five’s otherwise underwhelming “Reaganing” episode: “You have so many unsolvable problems. Like your mouth. Looks like somebody kicked a hole in a bag of flour.”
4. Liz’s high school reunion is chillier than Iceman and Maverick.
In season three’s Emmy-winning “Reunion” episode, Liz discovers that she’s not fondly remembered by her high school classmates. In fact, one jilted colleague — a rather effete gentleman named Rob Sussman — confronts Liz on her teenage derisiveness, pouting, “Think I’m still gayer than the volleyball scene from Top Gun?” It is sublimely gay, and Liz’s dumbfounded reaction is the episode’s highpoint.
5. Jack realizes his potential as a daddy bear.
You think Jack Donaghy doesn’t know that he’s a bankable gay draw? Guess again. He even knows the right terminology.
6. Liz strikes up a very close friendship with Stephanie March.
In season one, Jack set Liz up on a very successful date. The only problem? The date was Gretchen Thomas (Law and Order: SVU’s Stephanie March), a lesbian who actually thought she met a potential girlfriend. Funny enough, she was right: Liz became obsessed with their friendship, and Stephanie had to break it off when it was clear that their courtship wouldn’t work. “Is this because I wanted to sign us up for The Amazing Race?” Liz asked her. “Because I was 80% joking about that.”
7. Jack Donaghy launches the TWINKS network and treats us to Gay SportsCenter.
I’d probably watch Jack Donaghy’s aborted network for gay men, TWINKS (“Television with Individuals….Naive, Kinky, Shaved.”), if only for the sports commentary. In a preview for the station, a gay anchor scrolled through a list of ESPN-worthy topics and looked bored and confused by all of them. I mean, look at those topics. Horrifying.
8. I fawn over D’Fwan
Though Tracy Jordan’s bossy wife Angie (Sherri Shepherd) was the official star of the Bravo-lampooning reality series Queen of Jordan, the breakout superstar of the show was her pal D’Fwan (Tituss Burgess), a prim, snooty gay man who tried desperately to coin his own catchphrase. Of course that led to his greatet moment, wherein he uttered the immortal line, “D’Fwan forgot his catchphrase!” Gold. My other favorite: “Please d’fwink responsibly.”
9. Frank lusts for a younger man.
In season two, it was weird and hilarious when Liz realized her much younger date Jamie’s (Val Emmich) mother looked exactly like Liz herself, but the more twisted story arc belonged to Frank (Judah Friedlander). The vile writer found himself lusting for the pretty young Jamie, and he stated plainly, “I want to kiss him on the mouth.” He never got that chance, but Frank’s theatrical confusion was worthy of an Annie Proulx short story.
10. We should all subscribe to the philosophy of Lizbeanism
Liz Lemon’s bleak attempts at self-help often result in ridiculous proclamations, and on one occasion, she bragged to Jack Donaghy about her new philosophy on life: Lizbeanism. She meant to tout her self-possession, but instead she stumbled headlong into a lesbian pun. “Because lizbeanism means that I am a dike,” she began unwittingly, “against the rising waters of mediocrity.” May she always stay above water.