Stuff I Love: Sports Night

Sports Night, a half-hour comedy-drama series created by Aaron Sorkin (before he rose to West Wing fame), has just made it to Netflix streaming and should therefore be added to all of your to-be-watched (or re-watched) queues.

Sports Night DVD

First, it’s not about sports. Not any more than The West Wing was about politics, at least. It’s about people — about an intense workplace that has forged a created family of deeply flawed but passionate people. And it’s about snappy, quick dialogue, unexpected jokes, and Sorkin’s trademarked repetitive style.

(Personally, I think the title “Sports Night” is what doomed the show. I remember seeing it in the TV listings and thinking it was an actual sports show, not a scripted comedy-drama.)

Fans of West Wing will notice proto versions of character archetypes, as well as some of the same actors. Everyone will notice a horrible laugh track in the first few episodes, before they started to find their stride and realized that they were not, in fact, a sitcom. Suffer through the laugh track if you can — it’s worth it.

Actors you may recognize: Felicity Huffman, Robert Guillaume, Peter Krause, Joshua Molina, Josh Charles, Sabrina Lloyd, and William H. Macy (season 2).

I love this show. I love how fast it moves, how it’s about people who love each other instead of people who hate each other (like so many modern sitcoms). I love how all the characters are neurotic and flawed, but likable. I love that it poses difficult moral questions and rarely chooses the easy way out or implies there’s an easy answer at all.

The shows are half an hour long — less since there are no commercials. You can watch them on your lunch break, or while you’re doing dishes, or in one long, intense marathon over a weekend when you should be revising your novel.

This is a show I love — I’m on my 5th rewatch, after all — and I want other people to love it, too.


Tim Pratt 6 years ago .

This show is one of the greats. Always makes me want to write lots of banter-ish dialogue. I also like how it isn't driven by inane easy-to-solve-if-anyone-stopped-and-listened misunderstandings, like so much TV comedy.

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    Yes, exactly!!! Except for some silliness with the Dana/Casey relationship stuff, the plots are actually real plots. I can't stand sitcoms that use misunderstandings to propel the story — lazy, lazy writing.

Damian 6 years ago .

This was a great show. It's funny, I remember it being an hour long show! Proof of how much they packed into each episode!

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    I know! Nowadays, it would definitely be an hour. But I'm guessing they originally pitched it as a sitcom — given that horrendous early laugh track.

Greg van Eekhout 6 years ago .

Well, I just watched the first three episodes, which is NOT what I should be doing with my time right now. But that's some good, character-driven storytelling, and as a West Wing fan who also enjoyed a few odd minutes of Studio 60, I was way overdue in giving Sports Night a try. So, thanks!

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    YAY!!! I hope you like it! I'm going to bite my tongue and not say anything else so I don't accidentally spoil something.

Peter Sanderson 6 years ago .

I had a hard time convincing Devon to watch this, her initial response being, "I don't really like sports." Three episodes later she was hooked.

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    I was the same way about the sports angle. Funny thing is, I now get all the hockey references, and it doesn't really matter. They don't really add anything.

John Sullivam 6 years ago .

That’s spooky! I just finished re-watching Sports Night on Netflix last night. I’ve no idea when or how I first came to see it, though I know it wasn’t when it actually aired, but I remembered loving it, and I still did.

Dana (panting, out of breath): I just need your water.(grabs the glass in front of him and downs it in one gulp)

Mysterious Stranger: That was a gin martini.

Dana: Yes. I know that now. Is your name Calvin Trager?

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    It's not *that* spooky — it just showed up on Netflix recently, so I imagine a bunch of us are rewatching it. Which is funny, since we have 2 copies of the DVD sets in the house already.

    I love Dana. :-D

secretseasons 6 years ago .

It's a shame that I'm (seemingly) the only person who liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    I wanted to love it. I was so desperate for a new Sorkin show. But… I just couldn't. I hope Sorkin does another behind-the-scenes show soon. I will try to love that one, too.

Sally Felt 6 years ago .

Do I remember Sports Night? Yes, oh yes, and you were the dealer who forced the first dose down my throat. Crack, this show!

Got you back, though. I got you on West Wing :)

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    Hm… Sports Night is 2 seasons of 30-minute comedies, while West Wing was 7 seasons of hour-long dramas.

    We are so not even!

      Sally Felt 6 years ago .

      Only 4 seasons. The post-Sorkin ones don't count.

Comments are closed.