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.
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.