The Rebecca Howe-ing of Liz Lemon
Tina Fey and the 30 Rock writers are bound and determined NOT to go the typical "two leads get together in the end" TV show route and you know? I'm okay with that, if you do whatever you do well and make me believe it.
If you don't want to go the traditional route (which is tradition because it works, but you know, whatever), then you need to find a better way.
And, I don't think they have.
How is, randomly, throwing Liz with a guy in the middle of their relationship (with no Meet Cute) and rushing them into maybe having a baby together better than a long-term, earned relationship by the end of the series? HOW? It feels absolutely forced to me.
I don't even care if the guy is played by James Marsden.
The Liz/Criss relationship reminds me of the end of Cheers and what those writers did to Rebecca Howe (and I'll be honest) pretty much INFURIATES ME now just as much as it did when I was in the 6th grade.
Rebecca Howe came into Cheers as a potential love interest for Sam and replacement for Diane and she really worked. In fact, in a lot of ways, I loved her more than Diane (even though they were really apples and oranges). She was on the show for half of the show's run and became a main character. To have her marry a plumber she had met just the episode before (I had forgotten that it was literally the penultimate episode until I wiki'ed her...thanks Interweb) the series finale just so she'd be out of the way of the Sam/Diane relationship still angers me. Even as a 12-year-old, I knew that was some bull crap.
Did I expect that Rebecca would end up with Sam? No. He and Diane were THE couple of the show (full disclosure: I'm okay with the ending because Sam/Bar = OTP), for sure. But, did she deserve better as a character? HECK YES.
30 Rock is most likely going to end next year in their seventh season, so it seems reasonable that they would start to push towards their end point at the ending of this season so next season, they can actually resolve everything. But, as I'm writing this, Criss has been in SIX episodes. SIX. And, he has moved in with Liz, become her Han Solo, and is probably going to have a baby with him.
My 6th-grade self is crying on my 31-year-old self's good shoulder at how this has happened to another one of my beloved TV favorites.
I believe that we, as a TV-viewing audience, LIKE to watch "will-they-won't-they" couples. I know a lot of people like to say that we don't or that we're tired of it or that it's cliched...but do you really think people watch Castle for the amazing cases they have to solve? Is anyone really happy that Jim and Pam became boring and unlikeable once they got married? Why did an entire room full of people cheer like they had just won the Super Bowl when we heard "she got off the plane" at a Friends finale viewing party that I went to in 2004? Why was this scene from the LOST series finale most fans' favorite reunion?
Great TV romances have a starting point, a slow burn, and EARN their ending.
It's not that 30 Rock can't write a romance. Look at Jenna/Paul. I've seen the beginning of their romance, their weird relationship's ups and downs, and dang it, if I didn't smile like a crazy person when they reunited in "Murphy Brown Lied to Us". Sure, Will Forte is a guest-star and doesn't show up all the time (which is perfectly fine with me for Jenna because she is a supporting character), but I want them to end up together because they've been written really well.
I get that 30 Rock may want to do something different, but there's a method to the madness. There's a reason that great TV relationships aren't thrown together at the eleventh hour. I'm not watching fan videos of Rebecca Howe/Plumber on YouTube and following Tumblrs dedicated to them (I'd even be SHOCKED if those existed) because their cheap pairing was so forgettable (unless you continue to be angry about it to this day).
I think Liz Lemon deserves better. If she's not meant to end up with Jack Donaghy, fine. But, give her a romance worthy of her greatness.