’30 Rock’ Borrowed a Crucial Element From ‘Law & Order’

The TV sitcom 30 Rock gave people insight into what goes into creating and managing a show. The premise and characters stayed with fans even after the series ended. However, one of the lead actors believed the show would fail after its first season

Instead, the comedy became a massive success despite having a rival series with a similar idea. Part of what made 30 Rock special is it borrowed elements from other shows. One example is a filmmaking technique from Law & Order

’30 Rock’ earned over a dozen Emmys

Between 2006 and 2013, millions of people tuned in to watch 30 Rock every week on NBC. During its seven-season run, the show received critical acclaim. 

It also racked up a host of awards. Alec Baldwin won two Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes for his role as Jack Donaghy. Tina Fey landed a few herself for her portrayal of Liz Lemon. In total, 30 Rock received 16 Emmy Awards in various categories. 

For its first season, 30 Rock won for Outstanding Comedy Series, an Emmy that goes to those who directed and produced during that year. Among those who received recognition include Adam Bernstein, who helmed the pilot.

Bernstein was only the director for six episodes, but he has plenty to share about the making of the series. A significant amount of hard work made a memorable show worthy of critical acclaim. 

’30 Rock’ used an element from ‘Law & Order’

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(L-R): Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin filming on location for “30 Rock” on August 28, 2012 in New York City. | James Devaney/WireImage

The creators of 30 Rock had multiple sources of inspiration. But presumably, few would guess the procedural Law & Order would fall into that category. The 30 Rock Book begins with the process of making the pilot episode. According to the passage, Bernstein thought to use handheld cameras for certain shots. 

The crew would repeatedly use the method of filming throughout the series. Bernstein once directed an episode of Law & Order, where he got the idea. He even brought in an “astonishing” camera operator whose work he considered “fluid and seamless.”

“He wasn’t using any special Steadicam,” Bernstein said of Peter Agliara. “The one agenda I had going into [the 30 Rock pilot] was to give the show a flavor of realism.” Agliata explains that a handheld camera operator has to read an actor and predict what they might do. He originally planned to film the just pilot but stayed on for the rest of the series. 

Other inspirations for ’30 Rock’

Tina Fey’s experiences on Saturday Night Live inspired the writers when creating Liz in 30 Rock. The show uses the fact that Fey discovered that her SNL boss would pee in cups. Liz Lemon herself was a compilation of Fey and other female writers on staff.

Additionally, one writer’s assistant described Liz as “the Mary Tyler Moore of that time.” The opening music even pays tribute to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Some fans might not know that Real Housewives also contributed to the satire show

The episode “Queen of Jordan,” in particular, uses elements from the reality series. Multiple characters have plotlines that appear reminiscent of Real Housewives drama. The writers of 30 Rock also would return to the pilot to find inspiration for later episodes. 

Clearly, these elements helped make a successful series. Some viewers still consider 30 Rock one of the best shows ever on TV.

RELATED: ’30 Rock’: Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy Were Never Supposed to Get Together