TV Land


It’s a good thing television producers don’t run the government: Politics would be much less entertaining. Or so one might be inclined to think after watching the first few episodes of the new NBC drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

An ideologically charged peek behind the scenes at an imaginary network’s troubled sketch-comedy show, Studio 60 arrives on the fall lineup fresh from the pen of entertainment whiz Aaron Sorkin, creator of the late, lamented valentine to policy-wonkdom, The West Wing.

Like West Wing, Sorkin’s new show revels in the atmospherics of a tense organization with an enormous payroll and labyrinthine headquarters. The camera of Studio 60 careens in an almost gloating fashion through the hallways, offices, and tech booths of the fictional network-the archly named National Broadcasting System (NBS)-taking in the racks of costumes, the monitors, the dressing rooms, the staffers clambering busily up and down the stairs.

This feverish environment houses the squabbles and panicked brainstorming sessions of Sorkin’s characters: comedy-sketch writers, comedy-sketch actors, and network bigwigs. They’re all clinging precariously to different rungs on the corporate ladder-just how precariously was made clear in the pilot episode, in which an executive producer named Wes Mendell (Judd Hirsch) exploded into an anticommercialist rant live on air, earning himself immediate dismissal. To...

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About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.