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30 Rock (2006-2013)
Tina Fey’s post-Saturday Night Live solo outing lived for self-referential jokes about television and the business therein. Liz Lemon’s work as the harried showrunner of The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan paid homage to Fey’s own time as head writer-turned-star of SNL. Insults to 30 Rock’s parent network NBC came fast and furious, and a seasons-long story arc about fictional overlord Kabletown sprang from the writers room in what seemed like seconds after news broke that Comcast had begun an NBC buyout from GE in 2009. The coup de grace came during an extended joke about running NBC into the ground that played throughout the show’s final season. The show closed, NBC announced cataclysmic ratings for both new and returning shows, and viewers couldn’t help but wonder where fiction ended and truth began. —Erin Strecker
Image Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC
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