Aaron Sorkin vs a writer on Twitter
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We were almost done.
We were almost through the final, short, exhausting-to-discuss season of The Newsroom. But good things never last and thus we have one final Aaron Sorkin blurting in the press to discuss.
So the whole thing is here.
Basically, after all the outrage on Sunday over the Newsroom episode, a writer named Alena Smith, who had been on staff, tweeted that she had tried to protest the storyline, and that when she wasn’t heard, she was kicked out of the writers’ room.
But then Aaron Sorkin had to respond, because of course he did, because he never met an Internet Girl he couldn’t leave alone.
He said that in the room, they had a lively debate, but then it was time to move on, and that the writer, Smith, wasn’t ready, so he gave her more time, but then after a while he had to really move on, and she still wasn’t ready, so he “excused her from the room”. I’m sure it was exactly that courteous, too.
Make no mistake - Sorkin is condescending and important in the telling of this story. “I write the show alone”, ugh. Pointing out that “Ours was the first writers’ room Alena had ever worked in”, sigh. He’s still a very Grave And Important man.
But he’s not wrong here.
The deal with the writers’ room is best idea wins. Of course that’s not always the case. Sometimes the idea that wins is one you think is lame, and sometimes the boss’s idea is the one that wins and you’re like (eyeroll). But the group talks and comes up with a solution and debates it round and around until they come to a consensus or the showrunner says “we’re going with option B, let’s move on”.
Because that’s the showrunner’s job. They decide.
There are more writer’s room rules: like, you only pitch something three times. Max. You bring up your point or idea. It doesn’t get the traction you want. Maybe people didn’t see it your way or maybe you didn’t make yourself clear. Okay, pitch it again. Maybe some healthy debate but they’re still going option B? Okay. If the matter is settled, too bad, you lost. Only if the room is still going around and around trying to find a solution do you bring up your option again – but if someone says no, you drop it. The end.
These are rules to keep the room open and honest and safe. They’re rules so that writers feel free to say stupid things that become jokes or episodes or storylines. They’re rules to try to make some sense and productivity out of what is, at its core, playing pretend for a living.
And so I cannot help but come down on Sorkin’s side. He is a nut, of course, and he wants to yammer and contradict and undermine every single person who’s ever opened their mouths to critique him, and probably some of the other writers in the room were too intimidated to speak up to the degree that Smith did, and thank God she spoke up so at least he didn’t think everyone agreed with him …
…But this doesn’t sound like anything except “the showrunner listened and then thought his idea was still best”. Which is not news. It’s never news.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have no idea who I am anymore.