10 Outrageous 30 Rock Fan Theories

NBC
NBC

The 30 Rock universe is a wild, wacky place where people can become Muppets at the drop of a hat. But some fans maintain there are even stranger things lurking beneath the surface of this show business sitcom. Here are 10 of the weirdest theories surrounding the series, ranging from the plausible to “dude, it’s X-Men.”

1. KENNETH PARCELL IS IMMORTAL.

This theory is widely accepted, in part because 30 Rock seems to believe it. There are multiple threads and whole articles devoted to the many references to Kenneth’s immortality. He’s appeared in fake NBC shows from the 1960s, has personalized autographs from the 1940s, and understands references too old for even Jack Donaghy. In a season four episode, he even asks, “Who said I’ve been alive forever?” Kenneth is almost definitely an immortal being — if not an outright angel.

2. TRACY JORDAN IS DOING ONE LONG ANDY KAUFMAN BIT.

Tracy Jordan’s boss thinks he’s an idiot, but some fans think he’s a brilliant meta comedian. According to one theory, Tracy is a witty social critic simply playing a character to make his points. Throughout the show, Tracy has dropped hints to his secret intelligence. He appreciates Anton Chekhov plays and checks people’s grammar when he temporarily joins the TGS writing staff. Tracy apparently plays the buffoon as performance art, most notably in stunts like his “idiots” protest with Denise Richards. If he’s already pretending to be a serial cheater, could he be playing dumb, too?

3. LIZ LEMON’S FAVORITE SNACK MADE HER INFERTILE.

Liz Lemon loves a lot of food, but perhaps none more so than Sabor de Soledad. The cheese puffs, which translate to “Flavor of Loneliness,” appear in several episodes. In season two, they give Liz a pregnancy scare because of their special ingredient: bull semen. But what if the side effects didn’t stop there? Redditor griftersly thinks Liz’s prolonged consumption of this, uh, substance might’ve affected her fertility. The proof isn’t just in Liz’s struggle to get pregnant; she also makes casual references to super long periods lasting 61(!) days. And wouldn’t it be typical for Liz to be betrayed by her own snacks?

4. JENNA MARONEY MET PAUL L'ASTNAMÉ AT PRINCE GERHARDT’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Jenna Maroney ultimately finds love with Paul, a drag Jenna Maroney impersonator. Paul is played by Will Forte, who initially cameos in the show much earlier. In the season one episode “Black Tie,” he plays Tomas, an attendant to Gerhardt Hapsburg, the chronically ill heir to the Austrian throne. Jenna flirts with Gerhardt at his birthday party in hopes of marrying into a royal family, but the prince dies by the end of the episode. Tomas and Paul are seemingly two different characters. But as one theory goes, Tomas fell in love with Jenna at the party and decided to stay in New York after his master’s death. He made a new life as Paul, channeling his affections for Jenna into impersonation. Clearly, it worked out.

5. TRACY’S EGOT IS A LIE.

For two seasons, Tracy is on a dogged quest to EGOT—win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. He supposedly achieves this goal, but does the math add up? We know he won an Oscar for the gritty drama Hard to Watch: Based on the Novel ‘Stone-Cold Bummer’ by Manipulate. He also put a one-man show on Broadway, which presumably earned him a Tony. The Grammy could have gone to “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” “Fat Neck Girl,” or another of his original songs. But what about the Emmy? One Redditor thinks he never won one at all. Instead, Tracy counted the fake Emmy that Liz gives him in “Secrets and Lies.” He got the idea from Whoopi Goldberg, who proudly counts her Daytime Emmy.

6. LIZ HAS DEMENTIA.

In the series finale, we see Liz’s great-granddaughter pitch a show to Kenneth, the immortal president of NBC. Her concept is based on stories she heard from her great-grandmother, all taking place in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. She’s describing 30 Rock, but could older Liz’s mental state have informed the pitch? In the season four episode “Moms,” Liz’s mother reveals that dementia runs in the family. One theory suggests that, when elderly Liz told her children’s children about her job, she greatly exaggerated character quirks and wacky situations due to dementia. It’s a little bleak, but would explain the heightened reality of the TGS writers room.

7. 30 ROCK EXISTS IN THE SAME UNIVERSE AS UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.

Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Netflix

Right after Liz begins dating Carol (Matt Damon), she receives a lot more male attention, including from a construction worker. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, another Fey creation, has a similar catcalling experience with a similar construction worker … actually, the exact same one. Mike Carlsen plays both construction workers, leading some fans to believe the 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt universes are connected. Although Fey has denied that Kimmy and Liz exist in the same New York City, the evidence piles up. Kenneth also references a “Reverend Gary” who thinks the world is going to end, who sounds an awful lot like Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the man who kept Kimmy in a doomsday bunker for 15 years.

8. THE CHARACTERS ARE SUPERHEROES.

What if Liz Lemon’s horrible eating habits were actually, in a way, her superpower? One especially bizarre theory claims the core 30 Rock characters are all superheroes. Liz’s junk food addiction is proof of mutant genetics, since none of the awful, illegal foods she eats have killed her. Frank uses the phrases on his hats to bend others to his will, while Jack has telepathic abilities that allow him to read Liz and others. Topher is an immortal lost in time, Lutz is an androgynous alien, and, well, you should just read the whole thing for yourself.

9. GRIZZ AND DOTCOM ARE IMAGINARY FRIENDS.

Tracy has a loose grip on reality. Redditor franktopus believes he also imagined his two best friends, Grizz and Dotcom. But these figments of Tracy’s imagination are also manifestations of Tracy’s ambitions: Dotcom is a thespian, the respected stage actor Tracy sometimes wishes he could be. Grizz, meanwhile, is the devoted partner to “Feyonce,” symbolizing Tracy’s romantic ideals. This latter part of the equation kind of falls apart, considering Grizz, Feyonce, and Dotcom are in a bit of a messy love triangle and Tracy actually has a pretty solid relationship with his wife Angie. But of course Tracy’s hallucinations would be complicated.

10. LIZ, TRACY, AND JENNA REPRESENT THE ID, EGO, AND SUPEREGO.

Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski in '30 Rock'
NBC

Sigmund Freud believed that all humans were subject to the warring influences of our “id” and “superego.” The id is basically the primal, unchecked self; the superego counters the id, essentially functioning as our conscience. It’s very concerned with societal order and expectations. The ego is simply the individual—the one listening to both the id and superego, while calling the shots. One fan theory posits that Tracy is the id, Liz is the superego, and Jenna is the ego. But Reddit has extensively debated that triangle. Some have said that Jack is the superego. Or it’s actually Kenneth. Or Liz is the ego. The only part everyone agrees on? Tracy is the wild id.

10 Wireless Chargers Designed to Make Life Easier

La Lucia/Moshi
La Lucia/Moshi

While our smart devices and gadgets are necessary in our everyday life, the worst part is the clumsy collection of cords and chargers that go along with them. Thankfully, there are more streamlined ways to keep your phone, AirPods, Apple Watch, and other electronics powered-up. Check out these 10 wireless chargers that are designed to make your life convenient and connected.

1. Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad; $40

Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad
Moshi

Touted as one of the world's fastest chargers, this wireless model from Moshi is ideal for anyone looking to power-up their phone or AirPods in a hurry. It sports a soft, cushioned design and features a proprietary Q-coil module that allows it to charge through a case as thick as 5mm.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

2. Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station; $57

Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station
Rego Tech

Consolidate your bedside table with this clock, Bluetooth 5.0 speaker, and wireless charger, all in one. It comes with a built-in radio and glossy LED display with three levels of brightness to suit your style.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

3. BentoStack PowerHub 5000; $100 (37 percent off)

BentoStack PowerHub 5000
Function101

This compact Apple accessory organizer will wirelessly charge, port, and store your device accessories in one compact hub. It stacks to look neat and keep you from losing another small piece of equipment.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

4. Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger; $85

Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger
Moshi

This wireless charger doubles as a portable battery, so when your charge dies, the backup battery will double your device’s life. Your friends will love being able to borrow a charge, too, with the easy, non-slip hook-up.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

5. 4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger; $41 (31 percent off)

4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger
La Lucia

Put all of those tangled cords to rest with this single, temperature-controlled charging stand that can work on four devices at once. It even has a built-in safeguard to protect against overcharging.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

6. GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger; $20 (31 percent off)

GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger
Origaudio

If you need to charge your phone while also using it as a GPS, this wireless device hooks right into the car’s air vent for safe visibility. Your device will be fully charged within two to three hours, making it perfect for road trips.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

7. Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad; $35 (30 percent off)

Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad
Bezalel

This incredibly thin, tiny charger is designed for anyone looking to declutter their desk or nightstand. Using a USB-C cord for a power source, this wireless charger features a built-in cooling system and is simple to set up—once plugged in, you just have to rest your phone on top to get it working.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

8. Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain; $20 (59 percent off)

Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain
Go Gadgets

This Apple Watch charger is all about convenience on the go. Simply attach the charger to your keys or backpack and wrap your Apple Watch around its magnetic center ring. The whole thing is small enough to be easily carried with you wherever you're traveling, whether you're commuting or out on a day trip.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

9. Wireless Charger with 30W Power Delivery & 18W Fast Charger Ports; $55 (38 percent off)

Wireless Charger from TechSmarter
TechSmarter

Fuel up to three devices at once, including a laptop, with this single unit. It can wirelessly charge or hook up to USB and USB-C to consolidate your charging station.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

10. FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table; $150 (24 percent off)

FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table
FoneSalesman

This bamboo table is actually a wireless charger—all you have to do is set your device down on the designated charging spot and you're good to go. Easy to construct and completely discreet, this is a novel way to charge your device while entertaining guests or just enjoying your morning coffee.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

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12 Facts About Richard Simmons

Getty
Getty

Richard Simmons was everywhere during the 1980s and 1990s. From talk show appearances to Sweatin' to the Oldies video tapes, Simmons was the world's most memorable exercise advocate ... until he dropped out of sight.

In 2017, Simmons became the subject of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, which took the central conceit of Serial and dropped it into a group fitness class. The podcast recounted filmmaker Dan Taberski’s attempts to coerce Simmons out of an apparently self-imposed three-year exile, but still left plenty of Simmons lore to pore over. Check out 12 things that may help you better understand the man behind the sequined tank tops, who was born on July 12, 1948.

1. Richard Simmons was almost Father Simmons.

Born in 1948, Simmons was raised in a very religious household in the French Quarter of New Orleans. After graduating from high school, he entered a Dominican seminary in Iowa and stayed for nearly two years before leaving. “It just wasn’t for me,” he said, citing his 240-pound frame that had been engorged on food addiction from an early age and his “loud” persona as being less than fitting for the job. Simmons also tried getting into medicine but found that “dead bodies [and] blood” were unnerving. He also had stints as a cosmetics executive and fashion illustrator before finding his niche in the fitness industry, opening the Anatomy Asylum exercise studio in 1975.

2. An anonymous note led to Richard Simmons's body transformation.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

According to a 1981 feature in The New York Times, Simmons was working as a “fat model” in Europe in 1968 when he found a handwritten note stuck to his car. “Fat people die young,” the paper read. “Please don’t die. Anonymous.” Rattled by the message, the then-268-pound Simmons developed an eating disorder, surviving on water and lettuce for more than two months. Eventually, he recovered and developed a new philosophy: "Love yourself, move your body and watch your portions."

3. Richard Simmons appeared in two Federico Fellini movies.

Before Simmons slimmed down, he was enjoying the cuisine of Florence, Italy, where he was studying art in the late 1960s. While there, Simmons nabbed parts in two movies by acclaimed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini: Satyricon and The Clowns. The footage is apparently the only existing evidence of his former frame: Simmons once said he “burned” all other photos prior to his weight loss.

4. Richard Simmons revolutionized the '80s fitness tape craze.

No video store in the 1980s was complete without a section devoted to fitness. Industry stars like Jake Steinfeld and Tony Little shared shelf space with tapes from Jane Fonda and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In almost all of these releases, perfectly-proportioned motivators and models led viewers through rigorous workout routines. When Simmons started his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series in 1988, he elected to populate his stage with regular people who were still struggling with weight loss. Consumers appreciated that Simmons wasn’t holding them up to a fitness magazine ideal, and the Sweatin’ series went on to sell 25 million copies.

5. Richard Simmons has been known to confront overeaters.

Early in his mission to eliminate excess adipose tissue, Simmons admitted to confronting total strangers over some of their dietary choices. “I’ll see an overweight woman eating a butterscotch sundae,” he told People in 1981, “and I’ll sit at her table and say, ‘What is this?’” When he operated a trendy Los Angeles eatery he called Ruffage in 1975, he’d also sit down with his customers and tell them if they needed to lose weight.

6. Richard Simmons once replaced Alex Trebek.

In 1987, syndicated TV distributor Lorimar attempted to capitalize on the home-shopping craze with ValueTelevision, a one-hour show where viewers could place orders via the telephone for featured products. The series was co-hosted by Jeopardy! star Alex Trebek. When the ratings were less than Lorimar anticipated, they fired Trebek and replaced him with Simmons. Nothing seemed to work, and the show was canceled in June.

7. Richard Simmons used to tour shopping malls.

Beginning in 1979, Simmons appeared on the ABC soap opera General Hospital as a fitness instructor. With the cast, he began making personal appearances at shopping malls: Simmons was so impressed by the number of people he could reach this way that he continued even after leaving the show in the early 1980s. “I travel almost 300 days a year,” he said in 1991. “I do mostly shopping malls, because everyone will come to a shopping mall, no matter what they weigh, no matter their economic structure, no matter what they drive. The malls are the meeting places of America. And so that's where I go."

8. Richard Simmons doesn't like sarcasm.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

In 2004, Simmons was at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport when a fellow passenger made a caustic remark about his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series of tapes. According to police, the man spotted Simmons and shouted, “Hey, everybody, it’s Richard Simmons. Let’s drop our bags and rock to the ‘50s.” The heckling was unappreciated by Simmons, who reportedly walked over and slapped the man across the face. According to the Bangor Daily News, police cited him with misdemeanor assault. The case was later settled and dropped.

9. David Letterman gave Richard Simmons an asthma attack.

Simmons was a frequent guest on David Letterman’s late-night talk shows, with Letterman often playing the straight man to the hyper antics of Simmons. In 2000, Simmons took a break from the appearances after Letterman playfully sprayed him with a fire extinguisher, prompting the asthmatic Simmons to have so much trouble breathing that paramedics were called. The normally affable Simmons was so upset by the incident that he refused to appear on the show for six years.

10. Richard Simmons doesn't like restaurants.

Speaking with the Denver Post in 2008, Simmons said that he very rarely visits restaurants owing to the fact that people can’t stop craning their necks to see what the diet guru has ordered. To maintain some semblance of privacy, Simmons typically gets room service while traveling. He also avoids grocery stores, citing concerns that people tend to call him over and ask him to read the ingredients label to see if it’s a healthy option.

11. Richard Simmons called his dogs on the phone.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

Describing himself as a “loner” who doesn’t have many friends, Simmons once revealed a strong emotional bond with his three Dalmatians he named after characters in Gone with the Wind. When traveling, Simmons said he would call his house and sing to them over the telephone.

12. Richard Simmons foreshadowed his own exit in 1981.

As his fame and success grew, Simmons became a fixture on television and in print. Speaking to People for a profile in November 1981, the fitness expert said he received 25,000 to 30,000 letters every day and tried to meet as many people who requested his help as possible. “The day I don’t love any of this,” he said, “I’ll walk away.”

This story has been updated for 2020.