Friday, January 05, 2007

Studio 60-bashing: The Media's Newest Fad

It's hard to believe, but I started this blog almost a year ago, and in that time I've heard a lot of talk about Studio 60, some positive, some negative, and you know what... everybody feels differently about everything so for the most part negative comments about things I feel passionate about often just roll off my back. You'll notice very little has been said in this blog about the negative press Studio 60 has been getting in the recent months, and to be perfectly frank a lot of the reason is that I just didn't feel like getting into it. But enough's enough.

It is so hip and cool to trash Studio 60. "It takes itself too seriously", "It's arrogant", "The sketches aren't as funny as they should be", "Harriet's a bitch", "Sorkin needs to get over himself" It goes on and on. Some of these are valid points, some of these are idiotic, but either way I just have to point out the huge hypocrisy in the mob mentality warfare that is being waged on this show. There are few things I have read that are more self-aggrandizing than some of these "articles" written about how much Studio 60 sucks. It's disgusting. And some of these are in the guise of news articles, by reputable sources. Sorkin's never been short on ego, there's no doubt about that... but this is an intelligent, well-written, well-acted show. And any moron can and should be able to see it. But this show was built up so highly early on, that people couldn't wait to tear it down when it didn't live up to expectations. There's nothing people like better than the idea that they're superior to those who would ordinarilly be considered "better" than them, and that idea is proving itself over and over with Studio 60.

The worst of it all is some in the online community, and I hate to point fingers but, what the hell I'm going to. A big fat finger is being pointed at Television Without Pity. For those who don't know the site, it's actually a generally intelligent and occasionally humorous site which reviews the episodes of television shows and while the site obviously goes a little far out of its way to insult and snark on shows, (which is fine, the name tells you pretty plainly what you're in for) their attitudes toward this show and in particularly Aaron Sorkin have become absolutely venemous. Many of the posters are almost rabid in their hatred of it all. In some respects this is understandable, back when Sorkin ran The West Wing there was an incident where he lampooned the silly mob-like behavior at this site in a small subplot in the episode "The U.S. Poet Laureate" and no one likes to be insulted (despite the fact that his sentiments in the episode were pretty spot on.) but their attitude towards Studio 60 has become laughable. The Studio 60 forum on that site serves a little more than a Sorkin-hating circle-jerk. This is mainly the fault of the moderators who are very biased and quick to indiscriminately ban those who go too far out of the public opinion, but because the moderators set the standard for what should or should not be discussed on this board they seem to be encouraging vicious ad hominem hatred and, in my opinion, actively discouraging rational (and certainly *any* positive) talk on the show.

Maybe it's not in the best of taste to be so harsh on only one site (and Television Without Pity is really only one of many online forums behaving in this way, and most of the people on the site seem to be posting in good faith) but it's the one I'm more familiar with. I'm all for people putting their opinions online, hence this blog, and I'm all for healthy and constructive criticism but in my opinion most of the people blasting this show are full of shit and are positively orgasmic about the opportunity to seem superior.

I'm sure you've seen the stories about how real comedy writers hate the show, and how a comedy troupe in L.A. put together a live show where they actually did the sketches that are only hinted at on Studio 60?

I'm not impressed by the negative impressions of the show, either. People are entitled to their own opinions, but it seems like criticism for the sake of criticism. I enjoy the show a lot and don't pretend that it's portraying things they way they really are, except for when I'm watching the show.

If it wasn't for suspension of disbelief, almost no TV show would be watchable these days.
I agree with you completely and have described something I have felt for a long time. I commend u for ur post as I think there r probably many of those Sorkin-bashing posters from Television Without Pity who also view ur blog. I commend your effort and it reminds me a bit of Wes Mendel's rant ;)
I, too, completely agree with your comments. It makes you wonder if these "venomous posters" have any joy in their lives. Probably not, and that is a really sad thing.

Also, I'm sure some of this S60 bashing is coming from failed writers who are extremely jealous of Sorkin. Jealousy is an ugly poison.

I encourage everyone to go flood the Television Without Pity boards with positive comments about the show. It's completely despicable for a website that seems to have been designed for open discussion on television broadcasting to be fostering one-sided closed discussions on television broadcasting. I for one plan on spending a couple minutes each day leaving some positive, pro-S60 notes on their boards--even if it does nothing but aggrevate the mods.
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Living up to hype almost never happens, and living up to extreme hype is almost impossible. And don't forget how S60 was first the darling of the upcoming year's shows, then the butt-boy, then the darling again, all before the pilot had even aired. Then people were mad because it didn't have the gravitas of West Wing. (Completely missing that S60 is the younger brother of Sports Night, not WW.) Then people were mad because it didn't have the funny of SNL. (Completely missing how un-funny SNL has been over the past couple of years.) It's not even that there's no pleasing some people, it's that so few people seem to have given a S60 a shot based on its own terms. Is it a perfect show? Of course not. But it deserves much more of a break that it seems almost everybody is willing to give it, and that is truly sad, because as you say, it is well-written, well-acted, well-shot, and sometimes very funny. I watch the show faithfully every week with 11 other friends, and we simply enjoy it. More people should get over themselves and just try to watch the show on its own terms.
I couldn't agree more. I was actually one of 20 or so people who were admitted into the Studio 60 board on TWoP early so that it could be populated for possible mention in the show (remember Tom talking about the internet chatter about Wes in the episode after the pilot?) and all of us were very excited about the show. As soon as the boards opened wide, the smackdown started, and I actually stopped posting or visiting before the show even aired. It was so mean spirited, as if they were watching it with glee hoping to see it fail.

I have to say, it makes me agree more and more with what Sorkin has said in his shows about some of these people. I can respect an opposing opinion that is reasoned and well-articulated, but I draw the line at paying attention to the whining and mudslinging of people who seem to get their jollies from tearing other people apart. If they don't like the show, why are they watching? Shut-up and change the channel.
This is why I NEVER read reviews of movies, theatrical performences, or TV episodes before I witness them. I don't want to hear the bullshit around it, because it's everywhere. Chris, I'm agreeing that the venom-spitters are over the top, but sometimes the other extreme exists - people who believe the show can do no wrong.

In general, I take critics with a grane of salt. When it comes to self-proclaimed critics I break out the entire salt shaker. Personally, I want to make the decision whether I like something or not completely by myself, without outside influence. In a way, free speech can blow art and quality out of proportion. Yes, I realize I'm using free speech to voice this, so you can save calling me out on hypocracy. I dislike that a show can't simply exist, and the number of people alone watching it doesn't speak for itself - people will insist on swaying opinion. Watch it, say yes or no, and act accordingly. Period.

I would not let negative comments take away from the fact that Studio 60 is a great show. Most people who take objection or find fault in something some is saying do so due to most people don’t accepting what they like as being worthy, which in most cases is true. And the blatant remarks are more than likely contrived to direct attention away from what you have to say and shift it to their lame blog or web-sites.
Keep telling us about Studio 60 and we will keep reading and supporting what you have to say.
Who listens to anonymous internet types anyway?
hello ! My name is Laurent and I live in Paris France. I'm sorry to say that I have to download illegally the episodes of Studio 60 to be able to watch them but I can't help it.

It's a great great show and there will always be a portion of the population who thinks they are smart because they put it down. The reason of that is most of the time that they have never experienced the incredible complexity of doing a show, from the writing to the producing, shooting editing etc.
And most of the time you know what you wold like but the result is always different caus' we are human beings, we're not machines.
It will always be the curse of artists to pay for the choice the made, envied by the rest of the world , whome some of them made them pay.

I've started a buzz around this show here in Paris where most of my friends eat american series like nuts ! The see it on the net, when it's aired on french tv they see it again (even if the translation to french is always catastrophic !!!)
And all the people who saw the show told me how smart and brilliant it was !
As far as I am concerned I never read the bad comments because I can do it for myself but I enjoy reading the good reviews casu' it makes me share with others the joy and soemtimes makes me like much more things I had missed.

So long lives STUDIO 60 caus' it makes me laugh and thinks while the supposed leader of the free world pretends to solve the problems by sending his sons to war.

Thanks for your blog that I've just known !!! Have a great day !
TWOP and Aaron Sorkin have a LONG standing hate affair, that goes all the way back to the beginning of West Wing. Remember the episode with Josh Lyman figuring out he had a fan site called (And his calling the moderator a mumu wearing Parlaiment smoking lunatic?.. best Island of Dr. Moreau reference EVERY...) Well - that exchange comes from Aaron posting to TWOP and the site moderator jumping right down his throat and ... well ... it just got ugly from there. SO - having said that, it does not surprise me one timy little bit that that site is bashing S60. However, there has been some positive hype too. In truth, because we love the show SO much (me included) and want to see it succeed, we may be a bit sensitice to the bad hype being bandied about. All I can say is that I for one, and posting positive comments ANY time I see bashing, and will continue to do so... and I suggest you all do the same!!


PS - do any of you think the confusion about the nex new ep date is deliberate to confuse us about when to be watching it??
Yeah, elizasherr... I did mention that exact episode and situation (from The U.S. Poet Laureate episode of TWW) in the blog post you're responding too.

And no, there'd be no deliberate attempts to confuse as to when to watch it.
I would be willing to guess that the S60 bashing is run by people not watching S60. The show is unique in that its characters are multi-faceted. Sometimes you like them and sometimes you don't. What makes Sorkin's work work is that you always have to listen. Like WW some of the best work is absorbed by closing my eyes, S60 is similar. It's a listening person's show. Sure, the show can seem sarcastic or overly preachy, but that is Sorkin and the rest of his team. You know what you are getting when you watch/listen to their work. What the viewer also gets is a story line that doesn't just pander to the audience. It tries to raise the discussion level. The critics do not understand the difference between shows that pander to the mass audience and a show, like S60 which tries to raise the discussion. It's subtle. Very very little is subtle on television anymore. That's the Sorkin genius.
STUDIO 60 marathon on Bravo this weekend - Januray 20th and 21st. Spread the word.
I love Studio 60. I will admit it, even though it is horribly unhip to do so (notice I am anon. today). There is so much awful writing out there (not to mention what my husband calls the fall of Rome--reality shows like "You're the One That I Want") but this is an intelligent show. And yes, Sorkin can be self-important. And yes, it might be a bit "unrealistic" for people who are real comedy writers...but last time I checked...that was a very small, small group of people. ER, House and Grey's Anatomy are not always popular with doctors. Ally McBeal was not always popular with lawyers. These shows are not industry journals...they are entertainment for a wide group of people who do not know what it is like to write for SNL. I wish this group would lay off...because I am seriously scared that the first television show that I have really looked forward to in a long time is going to be canned because of a hate campaign. If YOU don't like it...DON'T WATCH IT, but don't wreck it for everyone else!
a bit of good news:

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly:

"Meanwhile, Reilly reaffirmed his commitment to critically praised but low-rated freshman series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "Friday Night Lights" and "30 Rock," showing confidence in the shows' chances to return for a second season."
pay no attention to these self-proclaimed critics bashing the show while hiding behind their anonymous nicknames ... wait ... doh!
I'm a reporter from The Los Angeles Times working on a story about people who love Studio 60. (I'm also the writer of the story about comedy writers who hate the show). Chris, I'd love to talk to you for this piece. Please email me if you get a chance.
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Here is a new article in the Toronto Sun that claims Studio 60 is going to concentrate on romance now instead of behind the scence storylines...

- jim/ Ontario,Canada
I totally like this show. It is not supposed to be a sketch but a program about sketches. Funny or not in its sketches, the show is good and I end up laughing and crying at the same time. For me, this means it is a great show! I do hope they keep it on the air.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Webmaster of Studio 60 Guide here. I just read the LA Times article and am so envious that they got in touch with you and not me!

Things to keep in mind about Television Without Pity include the fact that they set up the forum for "Studio 60" a lot earlier than I think they have ever done for another show. They have made a lot of exceptions for Sorkin over the years. But when he came to the West Wing forum some of us wanted to say more than just how much we loved his writing. I told him that I thought they needed a fact checker. And he took a lot of flack over what he said on the board and it got TWoP a lot of publicity. At least half of us on the West Wing forum thought his obvious reference within the episode was terribly funny. Some people were hurt. But again TWoP got publicity.

But I would have to agree that the current forum on Studio 60 has degenerated --- although I think finally most of the haters have left the boards -- I couldn't understand why they kept spending their time on that board if they hated it so much.

I tried to defend the people who were attacked for liking the show but was accused of attacking the attackers. Many people who loved the show and felt attacked for their love were warned to shut up by a moderator - the attackers/haters were allowed to accuse all those who liked the show of of being stupid but they were not allowed to respond individually.

On the other hand Sorkin would do well to listen to his viewers whether they speak on the internet or in the press or wherever. In some ways he is like Bush in ignoring criticism. I love the show and it makes me laugh a lot. But I doubt that the fans of the show are enough to keep it on the air and I can't see it if it is cancelled.
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