Hello, everyone. It’s Monday and we’re back with Better Late than Never. I apologize for the delay of this episode, but here we are and back on track and back on schedule with “The Option Period.” We’re on episode nine of Studio 60 and on Wednesday, we will finally hit episodes of the show that I’ve yet to watch. So, this will be a trip for all of us and I can’t wait to buckle down and present those posts to you.
For now, though, there is a lot to unpack in this episode, as there always is in Aaron Sorkin’s writing. Without further ado, here are my thoughts and my mini-review. Enjoy.
- I am longing for the day that Ricky and Ron are no longer on this show, but for the moment, I’ll just laugh and give credit to their hilariously clueless performances that universally annoy everyone on the crew, including Cal. The great thing about them is that they have chemistry with everyone so when everyone is mad at them, it makes for great entertainment. Also, poor Jessica Simpson. She always gets dogged on.
- “I did and I think we should all take the time to consider the suffering in Des Moines.” Nine episodes in and I am finally warming up to Jordan. She gets some good one-liners and Peet really knows how to knock it out of the park. Plus, she has great chemistry with Perry and Whitford, which really helps out a lot.
- “Is he in therapy?” “No, he’s got me.” No offense, Danny, but I don’t think you’re the right one to be carrying Matt’s crap around on your shoulders. You have your own mess to handle. Speaking of, doesn’t it feel like we haven’t seen enough of Danny’s mess? Why is that?
- “Woah there, nugget.” I feel like we don’t talk about Whitford’s comedic timing enough because the dude’s got it and it’s not exploited nearly enough. Give me more Whitford comedy. Side eyes perfect harmony but we’re not going to talk about that right now.
- Here’s the deal. Peet and Whitford and incredible. For nine episodes, we’ve managed to dance around Danny and Jordan. They’re nowhere near as infuriating as Matt and Harriet, but damn do I want to see more of them. I feel like I’m starting to say the same things over and over again, but the whole volleying back and forth about product placement and just their banter is crack to me. Give me all the ships.
- Ugh. The talk about women and how we are always in a competition to see who is ultimately the sexier woman. It was annoying then and it’s annoying now. Actually, it’s pointless now, but it’s still a topic of conversation. Sarah Paulson is a beautiful woman. Every woman is beautiful in their own way and the fact that Hollywood is so superficial sets my teeth on edge.
- Cal being thoroughly unimpressed that Ricky and Ron might be quitting at the wrap party is my Kryptonite. Mostly because it’s hilarious and pretty much sums up my own feelings about Ricky and Ron. Basically, I can’t be bothered very much.
- Tom just kind of confirmed that Harriet is modeled after Kristin Chenowith and I’m kind of here for it. Though, let’s be honest, I’d kill to see Chenowith on SNL just once and I’m not sure she has been and that makes me sad. She’s hilarious. I guess I have Pushing Daisies for her comedic chops and that’s okay with me.
- Okay, wait, did I miss something? Did Jack really say that Jordan was going to get fired on the plane? Because I don’t remember that at all. I remember him saying that he didn’t think she was going to last and then he defended her pretty vehemently in front of stockholders. So, color me a little confused here. Though, maybe that’s exactly what Jack meant. I don’t know. Either way, Jack said it in a way that could be misconstrued.
- Matt saying in fewer words than Tom and Simon exactly what Harriet needed and wanted to hear. They really are the perfect couple and I need them to get back together like five episodes ago.
Forgive me, but I feel like I’m saying the same things over and over again. It’s hard to come up with new things to say when the season is 22 episodes long and the format doesn’t change much. That being said, the format does change a little in this episode. We’re back to the original Sorkin three-tiered plot with the A-plot mostly focused on branding Studio 60 and bringing in product placement because the NBS deal in Macau went through. Of course, tying into it is Ricky and Ron leaving for Fox and taking the entire writing team with him, which saves Danny from making staffing cuts. The C plot is Harriet wanting to pose in a lingerie spread with Tom and Simon trying to dissuade her from doing so.
This is all typical Sorkin and it feels familiar if you’ve ever seen any of his other work. What’s great about Sorkin and his ABC plots is that it never feels disconnected. Everything feels so interconnected that sometimes watching an episode it just feels like one steady story and not three all weaved together. This time, however, the only part of the plot that felt really out of place was Harriet’s part of the plot.
I think the reason the whole lingerie spread feels out of place is that it feels so out of character for Harriet and even Matt points that out at the end of the episode. She isn’t vengeful and she certainly doesn’t seem like the type of person to pose in a sexy spread just to get back at casting people who said she wasn’t sexy enough. I get her frustration though. Women are pitted against women all the time and it hasn’t gotten any better in the 14 years it’s been since this episode aired. I like that Sorkin drew attention to it, but I feel like he did it in a backward way. Even now it feels cringy and binging the episodes like I’m doing makes it even worse.
Paulson, though, tries her hardest to be earnest and as close to Harriet’s characterization as possible, but overall, this wasn’t needed in the episode. I will admit that it led to a great moment between her and Matt where she finally lets her guard down and lets him in a little more. As I said in my list of thoughts, I need them to get back together. Perry and Paulson’s chemistry is brilliant and while Sorkin is focusing on Danny and Jordan more and more, it’s nice to see Matt and Harriet getting screen time too. They’re phenomenal.
Other than that, I feel the Macau deal also feels a bit wonky in terms of the tone of Studio 60 but I also feel like that the business side of television is where Sorkin thrives. That’s his bread and butter. Where his sketches aren’t funny, he draws humor from banter about business and that is obvious between Danny and Jordan as they talk about staffing and revenue and the like. That’s where Sorkin feels the most Sorkin, if you will. Even if it feels a bit off from the previous eight episodes we’ve seen. Maybe things will settle down soon and Sorkin will find a good blend between what he covers in this episode and what’s been covered in the previous episodes.
Also, hooray, no more Ricky and Ron. This is for the best and everyone knows this.
- Better Late Than Never: 10 Random Thoughts on The West Wing Episode 20 - February 24, 2021
- Better Late Than Never: 10 Random Thoughts on The West Wing Episode 19 - February 22, 2021
- Better Late Than Never: 10 Random Thoughts on The West Wing Episode 18 - February 16, 2021