I waver between love and like of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I mostly get why it doesn’t appeal to some people. I don’t get why some people watch it religiously and then spend additional time analysing it if it doesn’t appeal to them. It’s not The West Wing. It’s not even Sports Night. But it’s not nearly so bad that I can understand expending much energy into pillorying it. I don’t understand that with any show, but I’m repulsed by the glee of some writers who are not only reveling in Aaron Sorkin’s supposed fall from grace, but hoping to accelerate that fall.
But the last couple of episodes have left me repulsed by the show itself. Sorkin has said, in response to criticism, that he’s retooling his drama-about-a-comedy-show to focus more on the romantic comedy elements. And yet one recent storyline makes his grasp of romantic comedy seem a lot shakier than The American President would suggest: Danny as stalker.
We’re used to the romantic comedy scenario where the man and woman hate each other but really love each other. See Bridget Jones’s Diary. Sometimes one person supposedly hates the other and the hatee must work to win over the hater. See You’ve Got Mail.
But, like some of the worst romantic comedies, Studio 60 has veered into stalker fantasy. I was willing to overlook it when Danny told Jordan in the Christmas episode: “You'd better run, because I’m coming after you.” Just a figure of speech, after all.
But no. He then proceeded to come after her despite her repeated objections, and declared his intention to continue coming after her following another unequivocal “stop.” Just what we need — to have “no means yes” become a more entrenched part of our romantic mythology.
I know we’re supposed to get that Jordan secretly wants Danny, too. The last episode made that clearer, when she was less than thrilled when he told her that while he was in love with her, he’d stop aggressively pursuing her. That still doesn’t make it romantic. That makes it worse. Just what we need — to have “she secretly wants it” become a more entrenched part of our romantic mythology.
In real life, women are far, far more likely to encounter annoying and sometimes frightening situations where men will not accept that their attentions are not wanted, than they are to regret missing out on the love of their life who turned out to be that annoying or frightening man.
But watch enough romantic comedies, or enough Studio 60 lately, and you’d think aggressive persistence was romantic. You’d think putting your own desires far above the object of your desire’s desires was romantic. You’d think not respecting someone’s right to say no was romantic.
It’s not romantic. At all. It’s just plain creepy.