Tina Fey’s critically acclaimed series, 30 Rock, is all about the fake show business of TGS, a sketch comedy series that bears a lot of similarities to NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Just like the real SNL cast, the cast members of TGS often dip their feet into the waters of acting on the silver screen. Jenna and Tracy each star in their fair share of fictional movies throughout the series, although most of them sound like fever dreams.
Here are some of the best fake movies in 30 Rock, including some starring TGS’s own Jenna Maroney and Tracy Jordan, ranked from least to most absurd.
9. Tracy Jordan’s Aunt Phatso’s Jack Donaghy’s We At It Again
Tracy (played by SNL alum Tracy Morgan) is no stranger to dressing up as a woman—his Honky Grandma Be Trippin’ movies may look an awful lot like the Madea movies, but they’ve definitely made him a lot of money. It makes sense that he would try it again with Aunt Phatso.
In particular, Tracy Jordan’s Aunt Phatso’s Jack Donaghy’s We At It Again is an especially intriguing movie. The villain, Jack Donaghy, is meant to resemble the real Jack—except Jack can’t sue Tracy for slander, because everything the villain does or says in the movie is something Jack has said or done in real life.
Aunt Phatso is another blockbuster hit for Tracy, so it’s hard to argue with his concept (even if he did plagiarize Tyler Perry to get it done).
8. Kidnapped By Danger: The Avery Jessup Story
To tell the story of his wife’s kidnapping, Jack enlists the help of Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Donaghy-lookalike Lance Drake Mandrell (really just Alec Baldwin’s little brother, William Baldwin) to create a made-for-TV movie that can stir up public support for his wife’s situation. Liz writes the movie herself.
Liz’s script even includes an in-depth recollection of Jack’s love triangle with Avery and Nancy (Julianne Moore), who’s played by Cynthia Nixon.
I probably wouldn’t watch this one, but I’ve definitely seen stranger story concepts on Lifetime. The story would have been more absurd if they’d gone with Liz’s original script, but maybe the cleaner version was better for the Lifetime audience.
7. Hard To Watch Based On The Novel Stone Cold Bummer By Manipulate
This spoof on Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire earned Tracy his Oscar as well as his EGOT. The movie is really hard to watch, telling a story of homelessness, addiction, and suffering in the Bronx. No, it’s REALLY hard to watch—the main character uses a football for a toilet and his mother explodes.
Tracy’s Oscar campaign reminds me a whole lot of similar Oscar-bait movies that are just plain hard to watch, but as far as 30 Rock movies go, this one actually makes a lot of sense.
After learning he’s really a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, Tracy has the brilliant idea to create a Thomas Jefferson biopic. But there’s a twist: Tracy plays all the characters (like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor).
It’s an earnest concept for a movie—especially in the post-Hamilton era, where one could more easily see a Black actor playing Thomas Jefferson. Deciding to play every character was probably not Tracy’s best idea, though, so this one ranks relatively high on the absurdity scale.
5. Take My Hand
Originally intended as a gory slasher movie, Take My Hand could have been Jenna’s chance to enter the world of horror movies. After intervention from Jack to make the film profitable and pushback from Connecticut (where the film is being shot), the movie ends up being a light-hearted pro-Connecticut Walmart commercial:
My stomach is a little too sensitive for most gore-fest movies, but I might actually be able to get through this one. However, the “visit Connecticut” vibes definitely make this one of the weirdest movies on the list.
4. A Dog Took My Face And Gave Me A Better Face To Change The World: The Celeste Cunningham Story
Now here’s a Lifetime movie concept I could get sucked into. A Dog Took My Face and Gave Me a Better Face to Change the World: The Celeste Cunningham Story is the true story of liberal politician Celeste Cunningham (Edie Falco), who used to be much uglier before she was shot in the face by her neighbor’s dog and given a face transplant.
The best part about this fake movie is that Kristen Wiig plays Celeste. Wiig does an excellent job portraying how terrifying it would be to be shot by a dog.
So, this movie has a successful face transplant, an attempted murder, AND a dog? I’m in, but only because of how ridiculous it sounds.
3. Leap Dave Williams
Everyone’s favorite movie that Liz has never heard of is Leap Dave Williams, a play on Leap Day William. Fun fact: Tracy actually had a cameo in this movie, although his only line was “Give me your wallet, old man!”
Following a The Santa Clause-style arc, the main character (played by Jim Carrey) slowly transforms into Leap Day Williams, the Santa of Leap Day.
If all of that sounds absurd, you’re in the same boat as Liz Lemon. I guess February 29th is a holiday some people just don't get.
2. The Rural Juror
I don’t know what this movie is about, but neither does anyone else. The Rural Juror is a hard to pronounce film adaptation of a novel by Kevin Grisham, John Grisham’s brother. Jenna scores the role of southern lawyer Constance Justice. Since the title is so hard to say, it becomes an inside joke on the show.
Jenna also records a song for the film, which is equally hard to understand:
I can’t wait for the sequel, Urban Fervor.
1. Sing Dem Blues White Girl: The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story
Jenna’s Janis Joplin biopic could have been her ticket to A-list celebritydom—until they lost the life rights and had to make a few changes for legal reasons.
The finished product is Sing Dem Blues White Girl: The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story, featuring Jackie Jormp-Jomp’s famous hit “Take Another Little Chunk of My Lung.”
The biopic is riddled with other mistakes, thanks in part to the writers’ editing on the Janis Joplin Wikipedia page. Joplin does NOT eat cats, contrary to Jenna’s thorough research.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.