10 Outrageous 30 Rock Fan Theories

NBC
NBC

The 30 Rock universe is a wild, wacky place where people can become Muppets at the drop of a hat. But some fans maintain there are even stranger things lurking beneath the surface of this show business sitcom. Here are 10 of the weirdest theories surrounding the series, ranging from the plausible to “dude, it’s X-Men.”

1. KENNETH PARCELL IS IMMORTAL.

This theory is widely accepted, in part because 30 Rock seems to believe it. There are multiple threads and whole articles devoted to the many references to Kenneth’s immortality. He’s appeared in fake NBC shows from the 1960s, has personalized autographs from the 1940s, and understands references too old for even Jack Donaghy. In a season four episode, he even asks, “Who said I’ve been alive forever?” Kenneth is almost definitely an immortal being — if not an outright angel.

2. TRACY JORDAN IS DOING ONE LONG ANDY KAUFMAN BIT.

Tracy Jordan’s boss thinks he’s an idiot, but some fans think he’s a brilliant meta comedian. According to one theory, Tracy is a witty social critic simply playing a character to make his points. Throughout the show, Tracy has dropped hints to his secret intelligence. He appreciates Anton Chekhov plays and checks people’s grammar when he temporarily joins the TGS writing staff. Tracy apparently plays the buffoon as performance art, most notably in stunts like his “idiots” protest with Denise Richards. If he’s already pretending to be a serial cheater, could he be playing dumb, too?

3. LIZ LEMON’S FAVORITE SNACK MADE HER INFERTILE.

Liz Lemon loves a lot of food, but perhaps none more so than Sabor de Soledad. The cheese puffs, which translate to “Flavor of Loneliness,” appear in several episodes. In season two, they give Liz a pregnancy scare because of their special ingredient: bull semen. But what if the side effects didn’t stop there? Redditor griftersly thinks Liz’s prolonged consumption of this, uh, substance might’ve affected her fertility. The proof isn’t just in Liz’s struggle to get pregnant; she also makes casual references to super long periods lasting 61(!) days. And wouldn’t it be typical for Liz to be betrayed by her own snacks?

4. JENNA MARONEY MET PAUL L'ASTNAMÉ AT PRINCE GERHARDT’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Jenna Maroney ultimately finds love with Paul, a drag Jenna Maroney impersonator. Paul is played by Will Forte, who initially cameos in the show much earlier. In the season one episode “Black Tie,” he plays Tomas, an attendant to Gerhardt Hapsburg, the chronically ill heir to the Austrian throne. Jenna flirts with Gerhardt at his birthday party in hopes of marrying into a royal family, but the prince dies by the end of the episode. Tomas and Paul are seemingly two different characters. But as one theory goes, Tomas fell in love with Jenna at the party and decided to stay in New York after his master’s death. He made a new life as Paul, channeling his affections for Jenna into impersonation. Clearly, it worked out.

5. TRACY’S EGOT IS A LIE.

For two seasons, Tracy is on a dogged quest to EGOT—win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. He supposedly achieves this goal, but does the math add up? We know he won an Oscar for the gritty drama Hard to Watch: Based on the Novel ‘Stone-Cold Bummer’ by Manipulate. He also put a one-man show on Broadway, which presumably earned him a Tony. The Grammy could have gone to “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” “Fat Neck Girl,” or another of his original songs. But what about the Emmy? One Redditor thinks he never won one at all. Instead, Tracy counted the fake Emmy that Liz gives him in “Secrets and Lies.” He got the idea from Whoopi Goldberg, who proudly counts her Daytime Emmy.

6. LIZ HAS DEMENTIA.

In the series finale, we see Liz’s great-granddaughter pitch a show to Kenneth, the immortal president of NBC. Her concept is based on stories she heard from her great-grandmother, all taking place in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. She’s describing 30 Rock, but could older Liz’s mental state have informed the pitch? In the season four episode “Moms,” Liz’s mother reveals that dementia runs in the family. One theory suggests that, when elderly Liz told her children’s children about her job, she greatly exaggerated character quirks and wacky situations due to dementia. It’s a little bleak, but would explain the heightened reality of the TGS writers room.

7. 30 ROCK EXISTS IN THE SAME UNIVERSE AS UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.

Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Netflix

Right after Liz begins dating Carol (Matt Damon), she receives a lot more male attention, including from a construction worker. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, another Fey creation, has a similar catcalling experience with a similar construction worker … actually, the exact same one. Mike Carlsen plays both construction workers, leading some fans to believe the 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt universes are connected. Although Fey has denied that Kimmy and Liz exist in the same New York City, the evidence piles up. Kenneth also references a “Reverend Gary” who thinks the world is going to end, who sounds an awful lot like Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the man who kept Kimmy in a doomsday bunker for 15 years.

8. THE CHARACTERS ARE SUPERHEROES.

What if Liz Lemon’s horrible eating habits were actually, in a way, her superpower? One especially bizarre theory claims the core 30 Rock characters are all superheroes. Liz’s junk food addiction is proof of mutant genetics, since none of the awful, illegal foods she eats have killed her. Frank uses the phrases on his hats to bend others to his will, while Jack has telepathic abilities that allow him to read Liz and others. Topher is an immortal lost in time, Lutz is an androgynous alien, and, well, you should just read the whole thing for yourself.

9. GRIZZ AND DOTCOM ARE IMAGINARY FRIENDS.

Tracy has a loose grip on reality. Redditor franktopus believes he also imagined his two best friends, Grizz and Dotcom. But these figments of Tracy’s imagination are also manifestations of Tracy’s ambitions: Dotcom is a thespian, the respected stage actor Tracy sometimes wishes he could be. Grizz, meanwhile, is the devoted partner to “Feyonce,” symbolizing Tracy’s romantic ideals. This latter part of the equation kind of falls apart, considering Grizz, Feyonce, and Dotcom are in a bit of a messy love triangle and Tracy actually has a pretty solid relationship with his wife Angie. But of course Tracy’s hallucinations would be complicated.

10. LIZ, TRACY, AND JENNA REPRESENT THE ID, EGO, AND SUPEREGO.

Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski in '30 Rock'
NBC

Sigmund Freud believed that all humans were subject to the warring influences of our “id” and “superego.” The id is basically the primal, unchecked self; the superego counters the id, essentially functioning as our conscience. It’s very concerned with societal order and expectations. The ego is simply the individual—the one listening to both the id and superego, while calling the shots. One fan theory posits that Tracy is the id, Liz is the superego, and Jenna is the ego. But Reddit has extensively debated that triangle. Some have said that Jack is the superego. Or it’s actually Kenneth. Or Liz is the ego. The only part everyone agrees on? Tracy is the wild id.

15 Fascinating Facts About Schindler’s List

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List brought to the screen a story that had gone untold since the tragic events of the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler, a Nazi party member, used his pull within the party to save the lives of more than 1000 Jewish individuals by recruiting them to work in his Polish factory. Here are some facts about Spielberg’s groundbreaking film on its 25th anniversary.

1. The story was relayed to author Thomas Keneally in a Beverly Hills leather goods shop.

In October 1980, Australian novelist Thomas Keneally had stopped into a leather goods shop off of Rodeo Drive after a book tour stopover from a film festival in Sorrento, Italy, where one of his books was adapted into a movie. When the owner of the shop, Leopold Page, learned that Keneally was a writer, he began telling him “the greatest story of humanity man to man.” That story was how Page, his wife, and thousands of other Jews were saved by a Nazi factory owner named Oskar Schindler during World War II.

Page gave Keneally photocopies of documents related to Schindler, including speeches, firsthand accounts, testimonies, and the actual list of names of the people he saved. It inspired Keneally to write the book Schindler’s Ark, on which the movie is based. Page (whose real name was Poldek Pfefferberg) ended up becoming a consultant on the film.

2. Keneally wasn't the first person Leopold Page told about Oskar Schindler.

The film rights to Page’s story were actually first purchased by MGM for $50,000 in the 1960s after Page had similarly ambushed the wife of film producer Marvin Gosch at his leather shop. Mrs. Gosch told the story to her husband, who agreed to produce a film version, even going so far as hiring Casablanca co-screenwriter Howard Koch to write the script. Koch and Gosch began interviewing Schindler Jews in and around the Los Angeles area, and even Schindler himself, before the project stalled, leaving the story unknown to the public at large.

3. Schindler made more than one list.

Liam Neeson, Agnieszka Krukówna, Krzysztof Luft, Friedrich von Thun, and Marta Bizon in Schindler's List (1993)
Universal Pictures

Seven lists in all were made by Oskar Schindler and his associates during the war, while four are known to still exist. Two are at the Yad Vashem in Israel, one is at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and one privately owned list was unsuccessfully auctioned off via eBay in 2013.

The movie refers to the first two lists created in 1944, otherwise known as “The Lists of Life.” The five subsequent lists were updates to the first two versions, which included the names of more than 1000 Jews who Schindler saved by recruiting them to work in his factory.

4. Steven Spielberg first learned of Schindler in the early 1980s.

Former MCA/Universal president Sid Sheinberg, a father figure to Spielberg, gave the director Keneally’s book when it was first published in 1982, to which Spielberg allegedly replied, “It’ll make a helluva story. Is it true?”

Eventually the studio bought the rights to the book, and when Page met with Spielberg to discuss the story, the director promised the Holocaust survivor that he would make the film adaptation within 10 years. The project languished for over a decade because Spielberg was reluctant to take on such serious subject matter. Spielberg’s hesitation actually stopped Hollywood veteran Billy Wilder from making Schindler’s List his final film. Wilder tried to buy the rights to Keneally’s book, but Spielberg and MCA/Universal scooped them up before he could.

5. Spielberg refused to accept a salary for making the movie.

Though Spielberg is already an extremely wealthy man as a result of the many big-budget movies that have made him one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, he decided that a story as important as Schindler’s List shouldn’t be made with an eye toward financial reward. The director relinquished his salary for the movie and any proceeds he would stand to make in perpetuity, calling any such personal gains “blood money.” Instead, Spielberg used the film’s profits to found the USC Shoah Foundation, which was established in 1994 to honor and remember the survivors of the Holocaust by collecting personal recollections and audio visual interviews.

6. Before Spielberg agreed to make the movie, he tried to get other directors to make it.

Part of Spielberg’s reluctance to make Schindler's List was that he didn’t feel that he was prepared or mature enough to tackle a film about the Holocaust. So he tried to recruit other directors to make the film. He first approached director Roman Polanski, a Holocaust survivor whose own mother was killed in Auschwitz. Polanski declined, but would go on to make his own film about the Holocaust, The Pianist, which earned him a Best Director Oscar in 2003. Spielberg then offered the movie to director Sydney Pollack, who also passed.

The job was then offered to legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who accepted. Scorsese was set to put the film into production when Spielberg had an epiphany on the set of the revisionist Peter Pan story Hook and realized that he was finally prepared to make Schindler’s List. To make up for the change of heart, Spielberg traded Scorsese the rights to a movie he’d been developing that Scorsese would make into his next film: the remake of Cape Fear.

7. The movie was a gamble for Universal, so they made Spielberg a dino-sized deal.

When Spielberg finally decided to make Schindler’s List, it had taken him so long that Sheinberg and Universal balked. The relatively low-budget $23 million three-hour black-and-white Holocaust movie was too much of a risk, so they asked Spielberg to make another project that had been brewing at the studio: Jurassic Park. Make the lucrative summer movie first, they said, and then he could go and make his passion project. Spielberg agreed, and both movies were released in 1993; Jurassic Park in June and Schindler’s List in December.

8. Spielberg didn't want a movie star with Hollywood clout to portray Schindler.

Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson auditioned for the role of Oskar Schindler, and actor Warren Beatty was far enough along in the process that he even made it as far as a script reading. But according to Spielberg, Beatty was dropped because, “Warren would have played it like Oskar Schindler through Warren Beatty.”

For the role, Spielberg cast then relatively unknown Irish actor Liam Neeson, whom the director had seen in a Broadway play called Anna Christie. “Liam was the closest in my experience of what Schindler was like,” Spielberg told The New York Times. “His charm, the way women love him, his strength. He actually looks a little bit like Schindler, the same height, although Schindler was a rotund man,” he said. “If I had made the movie in 1964, I would have cast Gert Frobe, the late German actor. That’s what he looked like.”

Besides having Neeson listen to recordings of Schindler, the director also told him to study the gestures of former Time Warner chairman Steven J. Ross, another of Spielberg’s mentors, and the man to whom he dedicated the film.

9. Spielberg did his own research.

In order to gain a more personal perspective on the film, Spielberg traveled to Poland before principal photography began to interview Holocaust survivors and visit the real-life locations that he planned to portray in the movie. While there, he visited the former Gestapo headquarters on Pomorska Street, Schindler’s actual apartment, and Amon Goeth’s villa.

Eventually the film shot on location for 92 days in Poland by recreating the Płaszów camp in a nearby abandoned rock quarry. The production was also allowed to shoot scenes outside the gates of Auschwitz.

10. The little girl in the red coat was real.

Promotional image for 25th anniversary rerelease of Schindler's List.
Universal Pictures

A symbol of innocence in the movie, the little girl in the red coat who appears during the liquidation of the ghetto in the movie was based on a real person. In the film, the little girl is played by actress Oliwia Dabrowska, who—at the age of three—promised Spielberg that she would not watch the film until she was 18 years old. She allegedly watched the movie when she was 11, breaking her promise, and spent years rejecting the experience. Later, she told the Daily Mail, “I realized I had been part of something I could be proud of. Spielberg was right: I had to grow up to watch the film.”

The actual girl in the red coat was named Roma Ligocka; a survivor of the Krakow ghetto, she was known amongst the Jews living there by her red winter coat. Ligocka, now a painter who lives in Germany, later wrote a biography about surviving the Holocaust called The Girl in the Red Coat.

11. The movie wasn't supposed to be in English.

For a better sense of reality, Spielberg originally wanted to shoot the movie completely in Polish and German using subtitles, but he eventually decided against it because he felt that it would take away from the urgency and importance of the images onscreen. According to Spielberg, “I wanted people to watch the images, not read the subtitles. There’s too much safety in reading. It would have been an excuse to take their eyes off the screen and watch something else.”

12. The studio didn't want the movie to be in black and white.

The only person at MCA/Universal who agreed with Spielberg and director of cinematography Janusz Kaminski’s decision to shoot the movie in black and white was Sheinberg. Everyone else lobbied against the idea, saying that it would stylize the Holocaust. Spielberg and Kaminski chose to shoot the film in a grimy, unstylish fashion and format inspired by German Expressionist and Italian Neorealist films. Also, according to Spielberg, “It’s entirely appropriate because I’ve only experienced the Holocaust through other people’s testimonies and through archival footage which is, of course, all in black and white.”

13. Spielberg's passion project paid off in Oscars.

Schindler’s List was the big winner at the 66th Academy Awards. The film won a total of seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director awards for Spielberg. Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were both nominated for their performances, and the film also received nods for Costume Design, Makeup, and Sound.

14. Schindler's List is technically a student film.

Steven Spielberg gives a speech
Nicholas Hunt, Getty Images

Thirty-three years after dropping out of college, Spielberg finally received a BA in Film and Video Production from his newly minted alma mater, Cal State Long Beach, in 2002. The director re-enrolled in secret, and gained his remaining credits by writing essays and submitting projects under a pseudonym. In order to pass a film course, he submitted Schindler’s List as his student project. Spielberg describes the time gap between leaving school and earning his degree as his “longest post-production schedule.”

15. Spielberg thinks the film may be even more important to watch today.

In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, it's currently back in theaters. But Spielberg believes that the film may be even more important for today's audiences to see. "I think this is maybe the most important time to re-release this film," the director said in a recent interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. Citing the spike in hate crimes targeting religious minorities since
2016, he said, "Hate's less parenthetical today, it's more a headline."

Additional Sources:
The Making of Schindler’s List: Behind the Scenes of an Epic Film, by Franciszek Palowski

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2015.

The Most-Searched Holiday Movie in Every State, Mapped

iStock.com/chrispecoraro
iStock.com/chrispecoraro

Do you live in a Gremlins state or a Home Alone state? StreamingObserver is here to tell you. The streaming-industry site recently used Rotten Tomatoes and other public data sources to figure out the most popular Christmas movies in each state. Spoiler: It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t quite the Christmas classic you thought it was.

The list takes some liberties with what might be considered a “Christmas” movie. Die Hard (a favorite in Missouri and Wisconsin) made the list, as did Batman Returns (California’s most-searched movie) and Edward Scissorhands (popular in Nevada and Arizona). They aren’t quite the traditional Hallmark holiday fare, but they each include at least some nod to the Christmas season.

Then there’s the more standard Yuletide entertainment, like A Christmas Carol (Tennessee’s favorite) and Frosty the Snowman (South Dakota's pick). Christmas in Connecticut, oddly enough, is Montana’s favorite (unclear whether that’s the 1945 film or the 1992 TV movie), while Connecticut’s favorite is the 1983 Eddie Murphy film Trading Places. The Apartment, The Snowman, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Best Man Holiday also make an appearance. Seven states list Gremlins as their favorite, while six chose Home Alone and three chose Scrooged.

The data is based on Google searches, rather than surveys, so it's possible that the movie at the top of each state's list isn't so much beloved as it is curiosity-inspiring. It's possible that all these people are Googling Gremlins, then deciding not to watch it. But we feel fairly confident saying a lot of people will be watching Die Hard this Christmas season. (Tip: You can't stream it on Netflix right now, but you can rent it on Amazon.)

The 2018 results are fairly different from StreamingObserver's 2016 data, which you can compare here. Do you agree with your state's preferences?

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