The best show on television-hands down- is 30 Rock. It’s not an argument, it’s not an opinion, it’s not a point of view; it’s empirical. I’ll smile if you counter by picking Family Guy, but I won’t agree.
30 Rock, bolstered by the brilliant writing of former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey who also stars, and the absolutely splendid acting of screen great Alec Baldwin would be nothing more than a cutesy white folks’ comedy a la Seinfeld if it weren’t for one significant fly in the buttermilk: Tracy Morgan.
Morgan, who came to television prominence as “Hustleman” on Martin Lawrence’s Martin and parlayed that role into being a SNL cast member alongside Fey, stars in 30 Rock as Tracy Jordan, the chronically late, woefully unprepared, lecherous, libidinous modern Black star; always tragically lost somewhere between being a rapper, a gangster and a fool.
Foes of Morgan’s portrayal might be quick to suggest that in the age of Obama, negative Black images aren’t really helping. These foes would also probably be missing just how much skill and timing are necessary to aptly feign ineptness as effortlessly as Morgan seemingly does.
As good as Morgan is, however, he’s far from a trailblazer. When Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry made over a million bucks as an actor in the 1920s and 30s Black people were outraged. Using the screen name Stepin Fetchit, Perry took mad heat from the Black intelligentsia and various Black rights movements for taking recurrent film roles featuring him as the stereotypical lazy, shuffling mush-mouthed Negro. In real life, however, Perry was a highly literate contributing columnist for the Chicago Defender who later in life converted to Islam and became a confidant of Muhammad Ali.
So feel free to laugh at Tracy Morgan while you’re watching 30 Rock. You should only get mad if he doesn’t win an Emmy.