[personal profile] dipenates
This year I wrote Studio 60 fic in the shape of The Bend of Her Hair (3,000 words, Jordan/Danny, with a little Matt/Harriet, no warnings). It's bittersweet, and probably more bitter than sweet, because of all the relationships on the show, whether friendships or romantic relationships, I found theirs the least explicable.

The process of writing 'The Bend of Her Hair', and reading the other Studio 60 fic produced for the challenge, has prompted some thoughts on the show.

Studio 60 was the only Sorkin show that I've ever watched completely as it aired, and some of it was timeshifted thanks to my PVR. I watched the first few seasons of The West Wing as it aired, but the way the broadcaster shifted it about the schedule in the UK, made it more sensible to get the boxsets. Ditto for Sports Night, which I watched over the space of a few days.

There's a lot to like in Studio 60. Sorkin writes male friendships incredibly well, and I think that Danny Tripp and Matt Albie work beautifully together. There's a fantastic ensemble of characters, and the fact that Sorkin was tracing the details of his relationship with Kristin Chenoweth, doesn't detract from the glory that is Harriet Hayes, who is funny, smart, and decent. There's a pale reprise of Dan Rydell's issues with Jacob Rydell in Tom Jeter's relationship with his own father, and an episode exploring masculinity and performance. There is a fantastic double-bill called 'Nevada Day' that covers off city vs country, religious satire, international trade, business integrity, honour and war, and manages to skirt just the funny side of all-out farce. The show says some moderately interesting things about representation and patriotism, and tries to answer the question 'What is America?'.

On the other hand, there were some elements of Studio 60 that didn't work for me.
  • The structure. Across the whole season, the pacing seemed all out of whack. Having a five-part conclusion to your season is just bad planning. (1.18 "Breaking News" through 1.22 "What Kind of Day has it Been?")
  • The tone. Sports Night, which was also about producing a television show, placed just the right amount of importance on the work of its characters. The West Wing sometimes overshot the smugness, and its characters were running the country. Studio 60, in my opinion, was absolutely too precious about the task of making a sketch show watched by drunken fratbros.
  • Jordan McDeere. Sorkin didn't seem like he could decide what to do with Jordan. Jordan's boss, Jack Rudolph, was oozing with power and still very funny. Jordan, a powerful woman in the context of the TV industry, was made fun of. She rarely (never?) got to assert her authority, was shown wrangling incessantly with her subordinate (the revolting Hallie), and spent an awful lot of screen-time scooping food into her face. Apparently women in business who get pregnant spend the entire time sending their assistants out for two-course breakfasts. And bitching at other women.
  • Jordan McDeere and Danny Tripp. [livejournal.com profile] shutterbug_12  makes the entirely reasonable point, in these comments, that Danny and Jordan's romantic arc is massively compressed. This is true, and it may be that expanding it out would have made me like it more. However, I think Danny's behaviour is teetering on the edge of stalkerish, and that he was almost certainly falling foul of NBS's fictional fraternisation policy by getting mutual business contacts to send 'recommendations' of him to his boss, so she would go out with him. Even someone in their first job would know that shit wasn't cool, and ignoring the rules of business etiquette tells us that he is either socially incompetent, or indifferent to anything that isn't about him. Pursuing Jordan after she specifically tells him to back off is just skeevy. The moment in the hospital, where he attempts to sack her doctor, and then makes the decision about whether or not Jordan should receive medication, while she is perfectly competent to do so, would have me waving goodbye.
  • Lucy's accent. The actor who plays her (also called Lucy) is English, but spent the entire show talking through her teeth, for reasons which pass understanding.
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