I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s work. Since the very first episode of ABC’s ESPN-modeled Sports Night back in ’98, I’ve embraced Sorkin’s writing style (‘walk & talk’ and all) as nothing less than brilliant.
Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (and inside look at SNL, basically) only lasted a season. The aforementioned Sports Night just two. And Sorkin’s latest work, The Newsroom, will conclude a shortened third season tomorrow night.
If nothing else, I guess we could say that at least his shows are staying on the air a season longer with each effort. Still, I find the lack of attention that Sorkin’s work receives a bit disconcerting.
Could it be that there’s not many out there like myself? Am I missing something with The Newsroom that makes it highly entertaining for someone like me, yet seemingly unappealing to the masses?
Maybe, viewers just aren’t all that into dialogue-heavy content. That could be it. After all, other “popular” favorites that I also enjoyed — The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad — balanced sharp repartee with classically-thrilling scenes of violence & sex. Possibly, the witty banter that I find entertaining in shows like Studio 60 and The Newsroom doesn’t cast as wide of a net — and, as a reasonable person, I can understand that.
It doesn’t make me any less sad for the current state of entertainment, however. Because, unfortunately, television networks, and thereby their shows, depend on ratings. Nets like HBO can afford to give shows like The Newsroom a little more time than a fully ad-supported channel could; still, there needs to be eyeballs, or the show can’t last. And when shows like The Newsroom fail to captivate a large-enough audience to prosper, it makes networks skeptical about giving similar features the chance in the future.
Today, realty TV still dominates (years after I hoped it would wither away); clickbait-y posts on Buzzfeed garner more Likes and shares than any hard-hitting journalism piece would dare dream; and the average American attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. It’s no wonder, then, that dialogue-focused shows like The Newsroom don’t get much of a shot.
These facts will never stop me from thoroughly enjoying TV shows like The Newsroom. And I hope it never stops people like Aaron Sorkin from trying.