Saturday, January 6

In Defense of Aaron Sorkin



"You think I think an artist's job is to tell the truth? An artists' job is to captivate you for however long we've asked for your attention, if we stumble onto truth we've gotten lucky."


That was from "The US Poet Laureate" (West Wing)-- the show that I believe created a lot of the Aaron hatred on the Internet. It was a sub-plot about Internet fan sites that got the attention then--but it is the supposed "unreality" of Studio 60 that's getting it now. Apparently it is OK for the President to be disconnected from reality, but God forbid a television show not be 'grounded'.


Now-you can say whatever you want about anyone you like in this country and as long as you are stating your opinion you're pretty much safe. This is especially true on the Internet where opinions grow like weeds and that is fine. I cannot complain about that- I am a part of it. But at some point I get to say SHUT THE HELL UP! I kept my mouth shut during the first couple of episodes as the show was finding its legs. There were articles all over the place about other shows getting pulled off of the air too quickly and they always seemed to mention Studio 60 with a wink- implying that although maybe NBC should be thinking about dropping it the network wouldn't. I didn't say anything when the Golden Globe nominations came out, though there was much grinding of teeth. I didn't say anything when they started talking about how unfunny the sketches were or when a troupe in LA started doing the sketches that were only hinted at on the show. Although, let me say this. Aaron Sorkin has- for YEARS - written shows about what happens before and after the parts of life we see on TV; Sports Night, the West Wing, and now Studio 60. There is no reason for him to put the sketches on the air!!! This is not a sketch comedy show!!! I really don't understand why people cannot grasp that simple concept.


OK- since we all know that Aaron is not one to apologize I will try to do that for him. To all of the comedy writers out there who are quoted off the record in articles and blogs : I am very sorry that Aaron has too much talent and too many awards to count and is known as a brilliant writer (and not just a 'funny writer'). I feel very badly that after giving NBC a monster hit that won more Emmy,Golden Globe and WGA awards than you can count in 7 seasons the studio execs over there thought that maybe they should give him at least one season to prove himself with a new show when your treatment about dyslexic circus performers didn't get picked up. It must suck for you that Aaron has such a loyal and active fan base and you don't even have your mom in your corner. The fact that each episode is consistently topping the one before it must make you want to slit your wrists because he still has it and you never did...go ahead- we'll wait....


To the writers at the NY and LA Times and the other major press outlets who have felt it necessary to be sly, snarky or downright mean about the show in the guise of defending other shows or "journalistic criticism" please let me apologize to you as well. While you have been writing about TV, movies and plays in order to pay your bills because no one would buy your scripts for TV, movies or plays Aaron has been writing all three. They have been produced. They have been seen. They have been loved. Maybe if you stopped being such jackasses and started paying attention to the work he is doing now he would tell you how it feels. Nah- probably not.


This may sound bitter, angry or rude- hopefully all three because that is how I am feeling right now in case you didn't notice. There was so much talk about how television was rotting the brains of the nation and now there is all of this talk about the new golden age of television. I think that there is more great TV on now than there ever has been. More risk, more thought, more truth is out there on the airwaves coupled with great acting and directing. I love HBO just as much as the next guy. But let's spread a little credit around here please. David Simon and Aaron Sorkin have done more for network TV than anyone or anything since...well...maybe ever. They both proved that you could do smart, inventive television that dealt with real issues in ways we hadn't seen before and you could make it work. If you don't talk down to people, if you make your audience a part of your world they will respond. All you critics who are hopping on "The Wire" bandwagon you came late to the party. Go back and watch "Homicide: Life on the Street" and while you're at it pick up the first four seasons of "The West Wing". Sit down. Watch. realize that you are talking about someone far smarter and more talented than you are and do us all a favor- shut up.



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