Monday, February 9, 2009

New Contender for Most Grammar-savvy TV Show

In the past, I've dubbed "The Simpsons" the most grammatically savvy show on TV. But now it appears it has some competition.

In just a few short seasons, NBC's "30 Rock" has squeezed in at least four great grammar jokes.

1. In last week's episode, Tracy, the seemingly not-too-smart actor who's the star of the fictional sketch comedy show, tells a supposedly more educated character: "Don't end a sentence with a preposition."

2. In a previous season, Tracy humiliated an Ivy League writer by telling him his "who" should have been "whom."

3. Also last week, it was revealed that star Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) wrote a letter of complaint about the grammar in signage in the New York City subway. Her reasoning: Someone needs to defend "whom."

4. My favorite: Earlier this season, Salma Hayek was demonstrating to love interest Alec Baldwin the power of speaking quickly and authoritatively in Spanish. As she tore through several rapid-fire Spanish sentences, Alec's character Jack, overwhelmed with confusion and passion, at one point mumbled, "Was that the subjunctive?"

I never thought I'd hear the word "subjunctive" on prime time. And that's why "The Simpsons" writers should watch their backs.

Bookmark and Share


Joel said...

I can't quite get into "30 Rock," which is odd, because I love Fey and Baldwin. But my new, government-sponsored DTV converter has tempted me to watch all kinds of TV, and I saw episodes 3 and 4. And, yeah, both were funny, so maybe I can get into the show, but I'm not sure that's a good thing.

There's something way too exhilarating about hearing folks talk grammar on TV. Way. Like there should be a 900 number. "Subjunctive" is whatever is the opposite of a safeword. Maybe I shouldn't say all of this out loud. Or, um, maybe I just shouldn't say "subjunctive" out loud.

Okay, now I'm starting to make me feel a little creepy.

June Casagrande said...


And, yes, there is something way too exhilarating about hearing grammar talk on TV. But for me, I figured it was just because there's always a chance someone could mention "Grammar Snobs." Yeah, like THAT's gonna happen.

Joel said...

I think for me it's the obvious fact that intelligence, articulateness and awareness are major turn ons. That and the validation that the beautiful people (at least seem to) care about my nerdy obsessions. Really, I tell myself, they're more like me than they are like the superficially beautiful people who don't care about grammar. I lie to myself like that.

If they put me on the air, I'd mention "Grammar Snobs."

June Casagrande said...

For me, it's all about that weird sense of connection people seem to have with these "friends" of ours (fictional people on the old teevee). When they talk about my interests, it increases that (synthetic) feeling of human connection/friendship.

Alec gets me.

: )


Bookmark and Share