Favorite Aaron Sorkin character?

I promised myself that I'd try to avoid writing about things in this blog unrelated to technology, management, teamwork, or my job and its experiences. But something is about to happen that has got me so excited, I just gotta share it here.

It's Television.

Call me pathetic, but I love a good TV show, and Aaron Sorkin's new TV show is set to premiere next Monday (the 18th, 10PM, NBC). I think that Aaron Sorkin's writing (if you don't know who Aaron Sorkin is, you might know some of his work: The West Wing, Sports Night, The American President, A Few Good Men) is some of the best writing that television has ever had.

Anyway, Sorkin's new show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", premieres on Monday night. I think it's going to be a treat, and in reminiscing about some of Sorkin's previous stuff I came across a question that I'm going to have fun thinking about during long runs and my commute to and from work.

The question is this: who is the greatest Aaron Sorkin character?

I'm having a tough time with this one because I think there are a bunch of great Sorkin characters, whether regular characters or recurring guest characters (Lord John Marbury for one, Ted McGinley's "Gordon" character from "Sports Night" for another).

Man, it's tough. I don't think I can pick just one. But if I could pick a couple of Sorkin's best characters, I might pick from amongst these:

  • Dan Rydell, Sports Night (Josh Charles, actor)
  • Dana Whitaker, Sports Night (Felicity Huffman)
  • Josh Lyman, TWW (Bradley Whitford)
  • Jeremy Goodwin, SN (Joshua Malina; his character Will Bailey started out well until Sorkin left the show, then the Bailey character just got ugly)

So, what do you think are Sorkin's best characters? I'm not sure what my \*favorite\* characters are, but the ones I named here are some of his best, I think.


...and I'm having trouble deciding who's the better patriarch: Leo McGarry or Isaac Jaffe (SN, Robert Guillaume). Whaddya think?


The Toby Ziegler and Sam Seaborn characters were the most invigorating to me.

Posted by Mikael Gueck on September 14, 2006 at 08:26 PM PDT #

I think Sorkin's Josh Lyman was perhaps the best character he created. The character was the cocky, arrogant, outspoken, brash politican that people expected yet he was a loving, kind and tender man to those in his inner circle. Those in his inner circle saw the man that fellow men would like to call a friend and women would like to call a husband. That said, I also loved the character of Donna Moss. Not for the romantic/sexual tension aspect with the Josh Lyman character, but how Donna was the example of the general public. She asked questions and Josh answered them. Sorkin was the educator teaching through Josh, answering Donna's questions and by extension the American public. If you're looking for a patriarchial best character I'm at a real tie between Leo McGarry and Jed Bartlet. Leo was the flawed yet loyal character. He was the father figure who couldn't save his "children" from their fates (Josh being shot, Donna in Gaza, CJ losing Simon and being stalked, etc). Jed Bartlet was the ideal father figure, yes somewhat flawed as well but the ideal. He could rant and rage at God (in multiple languages) and he could feel emotions deeply, more deeply than a politician probably should, certainly more deeply than a President should.

Posted by Jennifer Erland on September 15, 2006 at 12:21 AM PDT #

Jennifer, I hear you about Bartlet being best patriarchal character. The reason I don't pick him is because, although extremely powerful, he still looks up to somebody for his advice: Leo McGarry. Both McGarry and Jaffe both come across as characters with all the answers, that they've reached the point in their lives where they've battled their big demons and have the wisdom of having dealt with them. With Bartlet, we see him entering that phase of his life during the show; he hasn't yet reached the same phase as McGarry and Jaffe have. That's why I see them as the ultimate patriarchs. Bartlet will get there (by the end of the show, you could argue that he reached that stage), but the others already \*are\* there. Josh Lyman and Dan Rydell are similar to me, in that they're both guy's guys but also emotional and have tender spots as you mentioned. To me, they're similar characters; I can easily think of Lyman as TWW's answer to Dan Rydell of Sports Night. Both are characters with clear growth and issues to deal with. Both have close buddies (Sam Seaborn, Casey McCall).

Posted by George Drapeau on September 15, 2006 at 05:33 AM PDT #

Although I haven't seen Sports Night since it first came out (I could use a refresher), I remember being totally taken with the characters of Jeremy and Natalie and their "relationship". I'm not sure they'd be the best Sorkin characters ever, but they were so unlike anyone else on tv at the time. I loved Jeremy's brainy savant-like mastery of statistics and sweet yet daffy Natalie's obsession with him. As for West Wing, I think Toby Ziegler was the most complex character. He was so self-righteous with his father and his criminal background, yet ultimately he took a similar (criminal) path at the end in loyalty to his brother the astronaut. He rarely seemed happy or satisfied with life. I'm really looking forward to the new show.

Posted by Sheryl L. on September 18, 2006 at 09:43 AM PDT #

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