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30 Rock bites the D&D geeks that feed it

In a surprisingly negative slap to the geeky audience that reveres 30 Rock, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) was propositioned by a Dungeons & Dragons geek turned billionaire in "Leap Day." On the one hand, gamer geek Thad (Steve Little) is a billionaire. On the other, Thad is a whiny revolting little troll who can't even get his Dungeons & Dragons gaming table to work right.

Liz Lemon, Dungeon Master

Liz's reaction to Thad's version of Indecent Proposal is understandable disgust. The plot is also clearly aimed at the audience who adores Fey. As James Poniewozik explained on

"It’s about nerdy, neurotic Liz recognizing that she is, after all, a legitimate object of desire—a successful, smart woman who looks like Tina Fey—and embracing it rather than being freaked out by it."

Liz decides to go for it, but by the time she comes around to attempting to seduce Thad it's too late – legions of supermodels have shown up to steal her thunder. What might have been a triumphant nod to Liz's geek appeal is instead a shallow comment about Fey's fans; she apparently doesn't measure up on purely physical grounds. Which is a shame because the writers have made it clear Liz was actually a Dungeon Master at one point (see video). When Liz commented how she hadn’t stayed up until 4:30 a.m. since college, a flashback to her dorm room showed Liz muttering over graph paper, "And behind this door, FIVE MORE ORCS! Take that Samir!"

As 30 Rock's popularity continues to dip, it seems the writers are burning down every sacred cow on the way out. Linda Holmes of NPR summed up the show's recent tone best:

"There's always been such an absurdist tone to 30 Rock that it's been able to get away with a lot of ridiculous behavior and silly plotlines. But at its core, initially, was a likable, smart, profoundly flawed woman trying her hardest to navigate all manner of show-business nuttiness that surrounded her. Now, she just seems flattened and robbed of everything that made her relatable."

Of course, if things worked out the way gamer geeks wanted, Liz Lemon would have been set for life as rich arm candy. If the final season of Roseanne is any indication, that's not a viable long term survival strategy for a sitcom.


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