Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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For the Love of God: Get Rachel Dratch Off of 30 Rock

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2007

Some matters require divine intervention

All right, so I haven’t watched a full episode of Saturday Night Live on my own volition in many, many years, and I’ve never seen any of the skits that this woman is involved with. So I’m willing to allow that it’s possible that maybe you have to understand the kind of characters that Dratch plays on SNL to appreciate her sort of humor. But given that her most famous role was playing someone named Debbie Downer, a character known for making the kind of faces as pictured above, I’m thinking maybe I’m better off not understanding.

This woman infuriates me to no end–just looking at that picture for more than a second is enough to get my blood boiling. And it was cool as long as her ridiculousness was confined to SNL–that show is hopeless anyway, save for the skits good enough to get filtered down to me through internet buzz and whatnot. But now she’s mucking up 30 Rock, a show which I very much enjoy, and that’s just unacceptable.

Supposedly Dratch was originally meant to play the part of Jenna Mulroney, the star of The Girlie Show, the SNL-type live comedy show produced on 30 Rock. Luckily the show’s producers came to their senses and instead cast go-to dumb blonde Jane Krakowski in the part instead, which makes much more sense as a contrast to the brainy Liz Lemon (the Tina Fey protagonist, who is Jenna’s best friend), despite the fact that in actuality, Fey is probably hotter than Krakowski. In any event, Dratch in the role would probably have been a disaster, and thankfully the producers thought better of it.

But as some sort of consoloation prize, Dratch was allowed to stay on the show as a regular, whose role would shift every episode, depending on what characters needed to be filled in for that week’s script. Unsurprisingly, most of these characters can be easily summarized as “Irritating Person #1”–whether she’s playing a cat enthusiast, a cheap prostite or a tabloid reporter, this woman is annoying, annoying, annoying. For each character, she puts on that screwy face, she talks in an exaggerated, affected accent, dressed in bad makeup and an unconvincing wardrobe, and she just sucks the life out of whatever scene she’s in.

And worse, she drags the show down to SNL level with her. One of the main thing that puts 30 Rock a level above the disappointing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which attempts to make SNL-style skits of their own and pass them off as “good” or “funny,” is its willingness to openly mock the show it’s drawn from. But check this video from episode, in which Dratch plays a Barbara Walters-type TV host interviewing Jenna about her new movie The Rural Juror, the title of which is an ongoing gag, since none of the characters can ever understand what the name is when it is said out loud. See how Dratch’s character takes that gag–which was sort of funny at first–and just stretches it and streches it and stretches it until, lo and behold, the comedy is gone. It’s the exact sort of tactic that keeps me from watching SNL.

30 Rock has yet to prove itself to be a great show–needs to hold up for at least another season first without the characters starting to grate or the plots starting to recycle–but at the very least, it’s an exceedingly entertatining show, and one proving to be a highlight of NBC’s already-stacked Thursday Night line up. But as long as Rachel Dratch is on the show, its potential for greatness is crippled. The girl has got to go.

One Response to “For the Love of God: Get Rachel Dratch Off of 30 Rock”

  1. John Mauck said

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Your suspicions are not incorrect about Rachel Dratch on SNL. She epitomized how low SNL sunk and stunk after the Farley-Sandler era. She was painful to watch in sketch after sketch. I would he hilariously bad if they released a BEST OF Rachel Dratch with her “best” snl shtick. The sooner 30 rock dumps her, the better. It’s really hard to fathom the she was a lead role for the pilot. My only guess as to why comes from the last “Hardball” episode. Tina Fey’s character goes on about putting her friends before her job and all this loyalty nonsense. Tina must have parlayed her control of the show into landing Dratch in a lead role. Some NBC executive watching the pilot must have felt like Alec Baldwin’s character in the Hardball episode. They probably realized that loyalty must have gotten Dratch the role. They told Tina and Lorne Michaels we like the show but gave a no go on dratch. That’s the only semi-rational explanation I can conjure. The crazy thing is that there is a contingent of bloggers who actually like dratch and wish she kept her original role. >
    I challenge anyone to post a funny sketch starring Dratch from SNL. In fact Dratch and Fey have been good friends for a long time. They were both in second city for many years and had a long running sketch called Dratch & Fey. Another Irony is the wikipedia description of her most famous character Debby downer. “One of her most famous recurring characters was Debbie Downer, a depressed woman who creeps others out with disturbing non sequiturs.” That is basically a spot on description of all Dratch’s characters, hopefully save herself.

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