Studio 60 is a smart, fast-paced new televesion show that is loosely set behind the scenes of a late night comedy sketch show such as Saturday Night Live.
From the mind of the very successful writer/producer Aaron Sorkinson (West Wing, Sports Night), Studio 60 employs a fairly large and varied cast, consisting of everyone from no name TV actors, to “oh yeah I know that guy” TV actors, to successful TV and movie actors (Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford, Mathew Perry), this impossibly fast-paced drama has the production quality of a movie with sensibility (and episodic structure) of network television.
It’s themes — if there may be said to be themes, since it is perhaps first and foremost a piece of dramatic art striving for realism — are love and romance (what else?), New York/LA life (though the dramatic location for the studio is Los Angeles), and the farthest extremes of excellent human beings performing excellently under pressure.
It is a big-city show about big-city life, including big-city romance, friendship, leisure, stress, and work.
Rumours are it is soon to be cancelled, since viewership dropped 43% after the fifth episode, but a small but enthusiastic population is crossing their fingers. Perhaps the lack of popularity is due in part to the misleading possibility of it being a comedy. Don’t expect it to be funny, even though it is centered around an SNL-type show. It is primarily a drama (the guy made West Wing, after all), with as many funny bits as any good drama, but no more. Superbly written, and acted and directed with a level of attention normally reserved for the big screen, the smart Studio 60 may just raise the bar for television shows across the networks… that is, if it isn’t cancelled first.
See for yourself, and let me what you think. Check out Studio 60, Monday Nov 6, 10:00pm “Nevada Day, Part I”
A few comments:
Not only do I find the show entertaining to watch for an evening with the heels up, but it is a fascinating portrait of ‘life in the fast lane,’ of the American work ethic and corporate competetion carried to its logical extreme. It is a portrait so accurate as to be scary.
It raises (and offers one answer) to the question: “What does a human being look like in a fully functioning mode?” The implicit premise of the show is that the people pictured, Amanda Peet’s character (the new president of “NBS”), Perry’s character (the “award-winning” television writer, probably as near a self-portrait to Aaron Sorkinson as any), and the rest are model examples of what it is like to succeed in the world. They are intelligent, powerful (within the entertainment industry), money is not an issue, physically attractive, funny and charming, and they are engaged in all of the inevitable trials and viscissitudes of modern life.
But is this what human beings look like when they are fully developed? Is there not an aspect of humanity, a noble, a dignified, an exalted aspect of being human that is still present even while we are resting? Are there not prizes to be won in life that are not won by competition and victory over others, but by competition and victory over ourselves?
The implicit philosophy of the show either ignores these questions, or answers them with a resounding No.