So, is it me, or is Studio 60 starting to (finally) hit its stride? I watched "The Option Period" with mikijean last week and we both found it surprisingly enjoyable. And I thought "B-12" was even better this week. Please, please let this be a trend. The characters are likable, the cast has good chemistry, and Aaron's a fantastic writer, so there's no reason this show shouldn't be great.
mikijean and I did a lot of knitting and a lot of television watching and a lot of talking about both, and we decided that we need to start up a consulting business "fixing" television shows. Because that's essentially what the two of us do when we get together anyway, and wouldn't it be cool if we could get paid for it and people would actually listen to our advice, and then we wouldn't have to watch so much disappointing television?
So, herewith, is a list of Five Things Aaron Sorkin Can Do to Fix Studio 60:
1. Treat it like a workplace comedy. We're not in the White House anymore and these are not public servants. No one wants to be lectured by people who work in television. Hell, I LIKE people who work in television, and even I don't want to be lectured at by them. Forget the culture wars, show us more of what goes on behind the scenes of a live television show. We want to see wardrobe malfunctions and crises in the control room and what happens when writers start to get punchy. Like, for instance, performers sitting around showing off their spit takes, which was delightful and hilarious. Aaron, one of your greatest strengths is the skillful way you infuse seemingly insignificant, everyday interactions between characters with humor and drama. Concentrate on that.
2. Bring the funny. It's about a comedy show. People expect it to be funny. Yes, I know that traditionally comedians are not known to be particularly fun people to be around. I don't care. We want funny and we want a lot of it. You can write funny, Aaron. Really funny. Find your funny. This is why Mark McKinney's character was so brilliant this week--his innate unfunniness was used to hilarious effect. More, please.
3. Show, don't tell. Quit telling us that Harriet is a Christian. Show us how it's an integral part of her life in a way that informs the narrative or forget it. I don't want to listen to characters explain their backstories, I want to learn who they are based on the way they interact with the people around them, and how they react to interesting situations. How long was it before we learned a damn thing about Toby's backstory? Forever, practically, yet I knew I loved him twenty minutes into the pilot.
4. Let the characters enjoy themselves. Matt and Danny have spent most of this season stalking around, frowning, and rubbing their foreheads in consternation. If they're not having any fun, we're not having any fun watching them. Loosen them up a little, give them some things to smile about, and show us that even when things go all to hell, they still love what they do with an abiding passion.
5. Get over your internet kerfuffle. No, really, get over it. We were all there, we all watched it happen, and we don't need to relive it any more than you do. Also? A lot of lovely people spend time on the internet promoting and admiring your shows and maybe--just maybe--it might be nice if you stopped insulting them. I propose a complete moratorium on any and all mentions of the internet for a period no less than two complete seasons.
Shonda Rhimes, Rob Thomas, Hart Hanson, Tim Kring, and Ron Moore, feel free to contact me for your own, personally-tailored notes on how you, too, can make your shows totally more awesome.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go bake twelve dozen cookies for a cookie exchange tomorrow morning.