Let me be clear about two things first:
1. I thought Studio 60 was brilliant – one of the best shows I’ve seen in years and I was devastated when it was cancelled.
2. I’m aware this post is about a year (or more?) too late and likely completely unnecessary at this point in time, but I’ve been watching The West Wing reruns on cable in an effort to stave off buying the complete West Wing collection (which I cannot remotely afford right now) and I’ve been moved to write an epic (okay, not quite epic) post…so here it is.
Studio 60 never had a chance, in a nutshell because though it was beautifully written, exceptionally performed, and extraordinarily executed – as few television programs are these days – it just couldn’t compare in content to The West Wing.
What was it about The West Wing that so moved me (us)? Well, I cannot speak for the whole of society, but for me, it was that my life is pointless. I essentially shuffle (or did – more to come on that later) paper. I am (was) incredibly valuable to my company and employers and fellow co-workers for what I do every day, but in the larger scope of the world it means absolutely nothing. The world is not a better place for my working existence and I find myself (then and now) yearning for a purpose. To know that I am doing something with my day that matters. And that is what they did everyday on The West Wing. Regardless of how the story worked out, their main objective, whether obtained or not, was to do good…to try to do good…to try to change the world. My day to day life has nothing to do with these things, and so it remains ultimately completely uninspiring.
And this is why Studio 60 couldn’t work when it came AFTER The West Wing…no matter how brilliantly executed, who can care about some silly hollywood SNL type show and the intricacies involved in producing said show and the relationships revolving in and around it…when the show that came before it was about the people who shape the very world? Studio 60 never had a chance…unless Sorkin did it first…as a beautiful prelude to The West Wing. But that was not to be, and so we lost out on Studio 60 – a ‘could have been’ brilliant long running show…because he showed us his perfection first in The West Wing. The West Wing was the most perfect show I have ever had the opportunity to watch, a program that managed to both entertain and inspire, a show that I nearly had to turn off (and sometimes did) when George Bush became president, because it was too difficult to watch a brilliant and imaginary Jed Bartlett be the president I yearned for while my country was run by a moron. Never have I so wished to transport myself into a television world than when I had to watch Jed Bartlett be good and honest and intelligent, and surround himself with the same, while in my world an idiot boy with a crooked smile was run by corrupt puppeteers and crooks.
But there is hope. Because I’m able to watch The West Wing with renewed faith these days, hoping that Obama will be able to slowly restore my faith in this nation and in my own governement.
And I guess with that, I managed to make this post relevant after all…
SIDENOTE: I should mention Sports Night. Also brilliant, and worthy of mention and a mark in history on its own. It’s a crime it too did not last much longer than Studio 60…only 45 episodes…but since it came first I like to think of it as both proving my point, and as Sorkin getting his feet wet. Of Sorkin learning what he needed to do to make The West Wing so powerful…and he really just nailed it.
SIDENOTE 2: If any benevolent benefactors out there would like to send me The West Wing collected series on dvd, please don’t hesitate to be in touch and I’ll get you an accurate shipping address
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