Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

At the beginning of the fall season, one of the new shows I was the most interested in was Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Particularly since the president of the show’s ‘NBS’ network was going to be a woman- it seemed like it had some really good possibilities from the start just by avoiding the mindset of Person in Charge= Man in Charge.

The show has numerous problems, but the most troubling to me is the one involving the relationship between Jordan McDeere (the network president) and Danny Tripp (the show-within-a-show’s producer). Jordan is pregnant, and for a short period Danny was the only one who knew. For some reason that I spent the first half of the episode trying to figure out, he invited himself to her OB/GYN appointment, bad mouthed the father for not being there before he even knew who that was or why he wasn’t there, discussed the father’s absence with the doctor, and had the following exchange with Jordan:

Danny: “We’re having a baby?”
Jordan: “I’m having a baby.” (said in a tone that implied that was funny and/or cute)
Danny: “Relax, you’ll be involved.”

That in itself is 9 different kinds of creepy, superior, and paternalistic. And he is her employee, which makes the entire situation weirder. With another, more sympathetic character, it might not have played as strangely as it did- but Danny is not the person to go to for any sort of emotional support. He’s a control freak with pretty much zero tolerance for any human failings but everyone is supposed to forgive his own, and I have no trouble imagining him deciding to “manage” her pregnancy because it might interfere with her nonstop protection of his show. Basically he just comes off as a jerk a lot of the time and there has been little textual support that would incline me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But for me the scene that pushed this from ‘struggling show I still think has potential’ to ‘place holder before Good Eats‘ was how, after spending the whole episode dithering about it, Danny realizes he’s falling for Jordan and tells her:

“I’ve been married twice before and I’m a recovering cocaine addict. And I know that’s no woman’s dream of a man. Or of a father. Nonetheless, I believe I’m falling in love with you. If you want to run, I understand, but you better get a good head start, because I am coming for you, Jordan.”

Is he declaring love or inviting her to a showdown at high noon? Was that supposed to be romantic? In what universe is that not the scariest relationship beginning ever? There’s some sort of weird vibe where it sounds like there’s a veiled threat of “I will not give up, I will not back off, even if you tell me to”. I thought society had progressed past clubbing women over the head and dragging them off to be married to whomever was strong enough.


  1. sbg says

    It sounds like they intended all that to come off as charming, but to me that Danny guy sounds like a creep with tendencies for possessiveness/stalking. I know I’d be nervous if anyone issued that “I’m coming for you” message to me. I certainly wouldn’t be intrigued by it, or titillated.

    I hope Jordan doesn’t fall for that crap.

  2. Graculus says

    You know, having ditched this show after either episode 2 or 3, the more I hear about it, the more glad I am that I kicked it to the kerb. The problem I have with Studio 60 is that Sorkin has already done this show, and done it better – it was called Sports Night, and it had more interesting characters (particularly the female ones) who just had more charisma all round.

    This? This is just skeezy. Ewww.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    Sports Night!!!!

    Did I write about it already? Ah, I did. Good. That would’ve been a huge oversight on my part. I second your reference to it here. Great show!

  4. DNi says

    Oh, I don’t know. I like this show, though I will admit it has a little ways to go, and that the two most prominant female characters in the show aren’t terribly well done. I do like Mark McKinney’s recently introduced character, though, the man whose family died and writes comedy. He was introduced with a pretty cool dynamic, to mentor the remaining two writers, both novices, after the rest left to write for Fox. I hope that he’s a sign of things to come for that show.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    Do you like the Danny and Jordan dynamic Maggie’s talking about? Or does it just not bother you?

    I’m just curious. After all, a lot of us around here are fans of shows we regularly condemn for bad gender representation. Sometimes it wrecks a show for me; other times I can look past it, but I still have to acknowledge it’s there.

  6. DNi says

    It doesn’t bother me, really, because I don’t really care for those characters. That’s actually the weakest part of the show, I think: the needless need for romance. Both of the show’s romance sub-plots aren’t terribly interesting, which is made worse by the fact that the female characters in these plots aren’t very well written or even all that likeable, made even worse by the fact that those two female characters are about 2/3 the major female cast.

    I have high hope for the British Girl, though.

  7. Patrick says

    Sports Night is the best sitcom ever. Probably because it didn’t subscribe to sitcom tropes – for the pilot episode, Sorkin used a laugh track because he realized that without it, the network people wouldn’t understand that the show was a comedy.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    One of my favorite things about SN was how it portrayed network people. They weren’t stupid; they willfully chose not to get anything that failed to conform to what their little spreadsheets and ratings numbers allegedly told them about viewers. I dearly love the argument about wanting to attract the 11 year old male demographic.

  9. MaggieCat says

    That’s actually the weakest part of the show, I think: the needless need for romance.

    I agree, and I think it says something about the show that almost every female character has been put in the situation of ‘the love interest’ in some way or another. Harriet/Matt and Danny/Jordan are just the obvious ones, but at the beginning of the season Jeannie was used to make Harriet jealous and in the most recent episode (the one I was talking about in the original post) Lucy (the British girl) was pretty much reduced to being the audience while Tom and Simon tried to sabotage each other and show off for her benefit. That’s every regular female character, minus Suzanne the assistant. Not sure what they’re going to do with Christine Lahti’s guest character, since I suspected they were going to go for one of those “we hated each other, now we love each other” relationships with Danny before this happened.

    To be clear, I don’t hate the show, I’m disappointed in it. I really liked it at the beginning but it took a serious nosedive after they started putting everyone in a relationship. Add that to the large number of rather hard to ignore coincidences that look like Aaron Sorkin is using these characters as stand-ins for everyone who’s ever wronged him (and that’s one of the places Harriet’s worst scenes come from) and it ends up making just watching the show feel like work. I was willing to do that work before, mainly because I love so many of the actors involved, but this particular interaction felt like a slap in the face.

  10. MaggieCat says

    It’s odd that you mention stalking tendencies, in this episode Danny was talking with Matt (the head writer/his best friend) and there was a mention of him having driven by Jordan’s house. He tried to brush it off by saying her house was on his way to work and Matt’s response was “Yeah, if you’re coming from Mexico” implying that’s a big fat lie. He also showed that he knew Jordan was from Virginia, when most people think she’s from New England (where she went to college). Google stalking much?

    I also doubt that she’ll actually reject him in the long run, at this point Danny and Matt are still being treated as the golden boys who can do no wrong.

  11. Patrick says

    I ran into the same problem, where the show quickly wore out the promise of its terrific cast. A major problem with that, especially compared to Sports Night, is the fact that much of the writing seems to be Sorkin writing an autobiographical fanfiction.


  1. […] In my last post about Studio 60, I complained about the way Danny declared his interest in Jordan. I didn’t think I’d need to again, it seemed like a clear cut case of ’some man told her what she wants, and that’s how it’s going to be’. I know of at least a couple of women who did actually find that scene romantic, so apparently it’s not as out there as I personally believe. Whatever. I’d washed my hands of this relationship. […]

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