Celebs Flock to '30 Rock' Despite Low Ratings

Tina Fey's hit comedy series has celebs lining up to guest star.

ByABC News
January 12, 2009, 3:35 PM

Jan. 13, 2009 — -- "30 Rock" has all the components of a hit sitcom: an all-star cast, a mantel full of awards, critical acclaim and the hottest celebrities banging down its door for cameos.

So why isn't anyone watching?

"['30 Rock'] is an acquired taste," said Matt Roush, a television critic at TV Guide magazine. "The nature of the show is that the humor is bizarre and absurdist, which critics love but that isn't all that mainstream."

Industry insiders say that while "30 Rock" continues to rake in awards -- the show took home three at Sunday night's Golden Globes -- some of the show's humor is just too out there for many to appreciate.

"There are lots of inside jokes that are just incredibly crazy, and some viewers write off as silly," said Roush.

"Just look at the acceptance speeches [at the Golden Globes]," said Roush. "Tracey Morgan sort of exemplified what the show is, which is off its rocker."

"But that's probably also what limits it," he said.

Like Morgan's speech at the awards show, Fey -- who is the show's creator and executive producer -- took the opportunity to call out a few critics who have dogged her on the Internet all season, telling them to "suck it."

While the third season of "30 Rock" started off well, Neilsen Media Research estimates that the show garnered 8.7 million viewers for its Oct. 30 premiere, the program's ratings have since slipped.

Last week's episode was viewed by 5.37 million, a 38 percent drop in viewers, despite the season's high-profile guest stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston. CBS's "CSI" won the time slot with 9.8 million viewers.

But even without strong ratings, "30 Rock" still manages to attract some of the biggest names in Hollywood, many of whom want to star alongside Fey and co-star and producer Alec Baldwin.

"There are shows that are designated as critics' darlings and industry faves, and '30 Rock' qualifies as one of those, even without the ratings," said Roush. "It's so freewheeling and crazy you can understand why people want to be a part of it."

A representative of "30 Rock" declined to comment on the show's ratings. The series is a satire of behind-the-scenes action at a fictional comedy show called "TGS" with Tracy Jordan.