Liz Lemon might technically be a fictional character, but Tina Fey based the role very much on herself. She’s the head writer of a sketch comedy series on NBC, she lives in New York City, and she’s hilarious – she’s Tina Fey in everything but name.
All these years later, Liz Lemon still remains one of the funniest characters on TV, and since 30 Rock is one of the best-written shows of all time, she’s also one of the most quotable. So, for fans of 30 Rock who want to go to there, here are the 10 best Liz Lemon quotes.
9 On appreciating the little things
“Just embrace the fact that you are lucky enough to be a happily married man. I mean, I’m actually jealous of you. You’ve got stability, a great marriage, devoted kids. You know what I have? A Sims family that keeps getting murdered.”
What makes the Liz Lemon character such a delight is that she’s found relative success with a well-paying job and future career prospects and a lovely home in New York City without ever having to get her life together. Liz managed to get the best of both worlds – she became successful without ever having to grow up. But all she has to show for it is “a Sims family that keeps getting murdered.”
8 On eye-rolling
“I want to roll my eyes right now, but the doctor says that if I keep doing it, my ocular muscles might spasm and eject my eyeballs.”
This exposes the medical dangers of Liz Lemon’s lifestyle. She goes through life with a cynical attitude and rolls her eyes at everything and now, she’s dangerously close to popping her eyes out because of it. She really can’t win. She’s unhappy with everything that life throws at her, and all she wants is to rebel against that by rolling her eyes. But if she does that, her eyes will fly out of their sockets.
7 On the plus-side of rejection from society
“Rejection from society is what created the X-Men.”
One of the funniest things about Liz Lemon is that she can find a way to put a positive spin on anything. If she’s been rejected from society, then she’ll find an example – however fictional – of someone who was rejected from society and went on to do great things.
When Charles Xavier and the other mutants were rejected by society, they put together a prestigious school and a superhero team that has saved the world on numerous occasions. Will Liz Lemon do that? Only time will tell, but she’s optimistic that she will at least do something that great.
6 On New Year’s resolutions
“One of my New Year’s resolutions is to say yes. Yes to love, yes to life, yes to staying in more.”
Liz Lemon cuts right through the inherent paradox of “saying yes more” as a New Year’s resolution. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be getting out of the house more and experiencing new things and stepping out of your comfort zone, because it all depends on what you’re saying yes to. If you say yes to ordering takeout and binge-watching shows on Netflix and sleeping in until noon and staying in more, then you’ve still stuck to your New Year’s resolution.
5 On jury duty
“I really don’t think it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I’m a hologram.”
Using creative methods to get out of jury duty is a plot that has been used in countless sitcoms. Larry David wore a flashy showbiz jacket and pretended to be a racist just to get out of jury duty. Liz Lemon’s excuse for why she might not be able to be impartial in a court case is a little more absurd – she dresses as Princess Leia and says she’s a hologram.
Carrie Fisher herself guest-starred on 30 Rock as a female writer who Liz idolized, which makes this reference all the more meta.
4 On admitting to your mistakes
“Who hasn’t made mistakes? I once French kissed a dog at a party to try to impress what turned out to be a very tall 12-year-old.”
Liz is right that everybody makes mistakes and anyone who criticizes someone for making a mistake is a hypocrite, because they have inevitably made mistakes themselves. However, the mistake she made is a little bit worse. Not only did she kiss a dog in an attempt to impress a guy – the guy turned out to be twelve years old. We all have embarrassing stories from high school parties, but very few of us did anything like that.
3 On staying in shape
“Why are my arms so weak? It’s like I did that push-up last year for nothing!”
It’s really difficult to stay in shape. You have to keep up exercising and maintain a healthy diet and if you take a couple of weeks off, then you’re basically back to square one. But some of us do very little to help ourselves. Like Liz Lemon, we put in minimal effort and expect the maximum rewards. Obviously, hers is an exaggerated version, but that’s what makes us feel comfortable laughing about it as opposed to just feeling depressed. We find her funny because she’s the even worse version of us.
2 On being a real woman
“Okay, fine, maybe I’m a little old-fashioned. I’m sorry I’m a real woman and not some over-sexed New York nympho like those sluts on Everybody Loves Raymond.”
She could’ve used any other show – Friends, Sex and the City, Gossip Girl – and it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as funny. It would be a true observation, and somewhat humorous, but it wouldn’t take the drastic left turn that is taken by the Everybody Loves Raymond reference.
There’s something about that show. It’s a wholesome family show set in the suburbs of Long Island. Who are the sluts, exactly? Marie? Debra? We sort of get what she means, but at the same time, it’s wonderfully absurd.
1 On popcorn on the plane
“I want to go to there.”
Tina Fey has said that this phrase was actually “coined” by her young daughter, Alice, and it worked perfectly for Liz Lemon’s reaction to “They have popcorn on the plane.” The line, paired with Fey’s delivery of it, captures the character’s childlike innocence so perfectly. Jane Krakowski, who plays Jenna on the show, backed this up later in an interview with the New York Daily News: “Some of the great catchphrases of 30 Rock have come from Alice. Like, ‘I want to go [to] there!’ – that’s Alice. It’s so funny, because I hear people say it on the street, and that was [Tina’s] daughter!”