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Studio 60

I’ve recently been watching Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I missed most of it on More4, so I’m getting the DVDs from LOVEFiLM. Eight episodes in and I’m obsessed.

As you’d expect for anything written by Mr Sorkin, it’s fast, unashamedly political, and full of references. It’s most definitely written for its political climate, and is already starting to age a little in this respect, but I like that – watching it at the time must have been great, and seeing it with a later perspective adds another dimension. The show deals directly with the US culture wars, and doesn’t shy away from battling the Religious Right (yay!), but in moral matters that bear no relation to religion there’s always a general decency. Just like TWW, really – the characters start out behaving properly and the plots progress from the problems this causes, rather than the usual reversal. And all the moral stances are unapologetic. The most recent episode had Matthew Perry’s character repeatedly laying into his Christian ex-girlfriend over her remarks on homosexuality, and didn’t end with the usual ‘we must try to understand each other’ compromise. She’s a main character, but was just plain wrong – she argued herself into a corner, and refused to play any more. His speech to her didn’t end with ‘when the President stands, nobody sits’, but it was close.

I also like Amanda Peet’s studio executive. I’m not halfway through yet, but it seems like she might be another of Aaron Sorkin’s Perfect Women. Like Natalie in Sports Night and Amy in The West Wing, she’s ridiculously beautiful and utterly flawless in character. I don’t really have any issues with this, but Abi used to remark that while she’s cool, it’s still a male fantasy. Fair enough. I was, though, bizarrely pleased to read that Amanda Peet is apparently quite cool in real life too, having just launched a broadside against the current spate of celebrity anti-vaccination campaigners in the US. Hey, a guy can dream.

Matthew Perry, incidentally, is a revelation. I always thought he was quite good in Friends, but he’s far, far cooler in Studio 60. I do find myself wanting to be him. And Bradley Whitford is Bradley Whitford (although he’s still Josh, really) and therefore immune from criticism.

I’m already sad there’s no second season. But there’s lots still to go, and I might draw it out a little. Looking at Aaron Sorkin’s Wikipedia page, it seems he’s sticking with films for the meantime. I don’t blame him, given his luck with TV. But I’d say TV is still the best game in town, and it’s a shame that someone capable of churning out some of the best dialogue in the industry, week after week, is stuck writing two films a year.


  1. I quite agree. I actually think The West Wing is my least-favourite thing Sorkin has ever done (which still of course makes it one of my all-time favourite shows). It doesn’t help, of course, that I saw it years after it was made. With a politics-based show you’d think that’d kill it dead but frankly very little seems to have changed. (Until series five or so when the remaining writers appeared to forget that they weren’t supposed to let Bartlet just fix everything and mend the world like McCain promised so laughably to do in your earlier post I think the biggest difference is that in TWW 9/11 never seemed to happen — hell, I’m given to understand that in the episodes we’re coming up to on our LOVEFiLM DVDs they’re about to start electing a character based on Barack Obama!) That said, Yes Minister still seems worryingly current, so maybe it’s a systemic thing.

    Personally, though, I just like the lighter tone of Studio 60 and Sports Night. It seems easier to relate to things that involve people than things that involve finding 62 votes by sunset including at least four republicans because dammit we lost Sen. Notarealperson (D).

    That, you know, and with Sports Night I don’t have to keep shouting at the TV “What? Please tell me they made that up. The US government can’t REALLY be set up that way, can it?!” I don’t care if Draft Day was devised by morons. That can’t cripple our economy. Much. Probably.

  2. I never watched West Wing but I too loved Studio 60 and was sad that it was not renewed. I liked the casting of Amanda Peet. I agree that she is beautiful but still interesting-looking too – not too ‘Hollywood’. Matthew Perry’s character is already more well-rounded than Chandler was after 10 seasons (although I do understand that Friends, as a sit-com, was not meant to produce intricate or layered characters). This is a show I will definitely want to watch again at some point (perhaps using Lovefilm?!).

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