Sports Night is, in the final calculus, a not very good show that is the obvious prequel to West Wing (a show which itself is probably Not Very Good but I love it dearly, perhaps especially for its flaws.) I think you can excuse many of its faults — it was a “prestige show in a network landscape” before that was really a thing, and there is no sharper hallmark of such a descriptor than the gradual move away from the laugh track over the course of the first season. I think if you grade it as a sitcom it’s actually fairly easy to love, and if you grade it as a sort of beta test for West Wing it’s fairly easy to appreciate (though the number of monologues Sorkin directly airlifted from this to the latter is comical).

When I think of Sports Night, I think of the finale of the show, and the deus ex machina television executive yelling brashly and firmly:

Anybody who can't make money off Sports Night should get out of the money-making business.

What a very sweet and awful way to send off a show. You can litigate Sorkin to hell and back, but you can never fault him for earnestness.



If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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