Thanks for the comments! It is still disgraceful that Lauren Graham was never recognized for her work on Gilmore Girls, and she won't be recognized for her work on Parenthood either, because it's another girly show, I suppose. Maybe if they added an inner-city drug dealer, a serial killer or rampant misogyny to the Braverman clan, then people would think the show cool enough to start acknowledging Lauren fucking GRAHAM already I MEAN JESUS. But without zombies or mobsters, there's no way.
Did Connie Britton get nominated for Friday Night Lights? I feel like they tossed her a tiny little bone in that final season. Don't get me started on how family dramas are persona non grata when awards season rolls around.
Anyway, onto passion.
Passion is the title of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After Angel turned evil, he came back to torture Buffy and there's a terrific episode with Angel's voiceover where he talks about how passion will destroy Buffy and her friends. And then he proceeds to use it to do just that.
Passion can be used as a weapon because it's raw, naked and revealing. Passion isn't reserved or cool. But based on how critics (by which I mean all the people who watch shit and then post about it on TV Squad, which will apparently run any old fucking thing) react, passion is something to be ridiculed and dismissed. If something is distant and reserved, it's telling you that it's Art. It has something to "say," apparently. It's super-easy to dismiss passion because it's so specific to voice. And voice is another thing that qualifies for ridicule. Witness the reaction to Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. Whether you like the show or not is irrelevant. What stunned me about the reaction was how people seem to have forgotten what an original fucking voice sounds like. Some asshole even put together a YouTube video of all the "sorkinisms" from his work. Or, as I like to call it, VOICE. And the folks who are giggling over this, who are using it to lambast Sorkin as unoriginal, are the same people who clutch irony and cool to their cold, dead hearts.
So the criticisms of The Newsroom so far have made fun of the dialogue: THERE'S SO MUCH OF IT OMG, Sorkin's political leanings: OMG HOW DARE YOU HAVE A POINT OF VIEW THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE LULZ, and, well... any iteration of the former. It's just too many fucking words, right?
And let's take a moment here to talk about dialogue, because we have two playwrights who have become extremely successful in television -- Aaron Sorkin and Jason Katims. Sorkin has certainly gotten his due with regards to the deservedly richly-rewarded West Wing (which gets made fun of when I am in earshot, which is not okay but fuck it, I'll just have another drink and check my e-mail). Katims, though, not so much, right? He's had the misfortune of telling quiet, complex stories about families. Like Sorkin, he's got an amazing way with dialogue. So does Amy Sherman-Palladino, which she's proving yet again with Bunheads. I AM ENJOYING THE HELL OUT OF THAT SHOW, because it's nice to be able to turn on the television and hear people saying words in an identifiable cadence, instead of just barfing them out because words are necessary to move plot points forward. Actual DIALOGUE EXCHANGES! Dialogue for the sake of it, for the way thoughts and feelings can be conveyed in a beautiful, distinct manner, is almost nonexistent on television right now. Dialogue is mostly serviceable. There's no flair. And that's disappointing. To quote my spirit guide Tom Stoppard, "words are all we have to go on."
Anyway. Back to The Newsroom.
I guess this is part of a backlash, in a way, because as we all know people cannot turn out consistently good work and when they have somehow managed to make a movie out of a non-subject like The Social Network, they must be taken to task when their next project appears. Or something. With The Newsroom, Sorkin is preaching to the converted and isn't telling us anything we don't already know. Yes, he is doing this. Because this is what he does. THIS IS HIS POINT OF VIEW. THIS IS HIS VOICE. Have we gone so far away from craft that we don't even notice when it's there?
It's pretty sad that television has an original, distinctive voice like Sorkin and people are actually MAKING FUN OF IT. I mean really, guys?? Are you THAT desperate to prove your worth that you would bash a guy for actually showing passion? Why the fuck are we making fun of writers doing what they SHOULD be doing? What we ALL should be doing? I realize it's a lot easier (and it makes YOU look cool, too) to crowd around writers who are considered more cool. And it's adorable that folks have huddled around Matt Weiner as a cool icon while at the same time totally misunderstanding his passion. I know we all have to be this way because of the Internet. But you do not get to make fun of Aaron Sorkin and then whine that there's nothing good on television.
Critics, I realize that you have to blurt out content on a fairly constant basis, and that the give-and-take between you and the public is substantially more immediate than it's ever been. But you're critics. Not celebrities. Just try to remember that.
And writers who are making fun of Sorkin? I just don't know, you guys. I wish we could all champion craft and hope for the success of dramas on television, instead of lining up to take shots. I'm flummoxed.