The Studio 60 episode (from Monday, which I just had time to watch the tape of) "Nevada Day, pt. 2" is what this show should be, and what I was hoping for from this show, and why I may keep watching this show.
If they can keep doing stuff like this.
This two-parter has managed to avoid or correct a problem that has been plauging this show since it hit the air, and which will probably continue to plague it: the fact that a drama about a sketch comedy show needs to also be funny and engaging or the audience simply won't care. And there have been good moments, but this pair of episodes had stuff I will never be able to forget, as well as plot and character development and a wonderful recognition that individual issues (such as gay marriage or censorship) are not as important as our universal commonalities, such as the fact that lies travel more quickly and acceptably than truth.
In slightly shallow fannishness, I love Tom Jeter for being so adorable and for not telling the truth that could get him out of trouble, because he didn't want to make emotional cash out of his family sacrifice. I love Jack Rudolph (shock!) for the fact that even he has a breaking point, a place where he can no longer "not care," where he has to stand up for a colleague. I love Matt for faking up a situation to convince Derek of what Derek should already know: that he can do more than characters, that Derek himself is worthy to be put onscreen.
Jordan? I don't always appreciate her, though she does amuse me, but her scene telling Harriet to stay away from Christian concert appearences until the media hubbub over Harriet's truncated comment about gay marriage subsides.... It was well-written and well-acted, with all the nasty opposing points that a public career entails. Harriet calls the idea censorship--and it is. But what is the lesser evil here?
I love, too, how Jordan and Harriet find themselves in similar situations, from the press and outside influence to back down--for totally different reasons. :-)
And I've had my reservations about the Harriet Hayes character. I wasn't sure that Sorkin & co. could effectively and convincingly write a conservative (well, mostly) Christian working in Hollywood. The fact that they tackle it here through the heated topic of gay marriage made me squirm, first, and then made me sit back amazed. There's no corners cut here, no actual easy answers, even though the characters would all love some. Harriet spends scene after scene trying to get someone to listen to what she actually said rather than what the media reported, and people keep either not listening, not being able to listen, or rejecting her outright.
I know what this feels like, this unutterable frustration. It was so excellently portrayed. Major, major kudos to the writers and the actors.
Especially at the end, when Harriet tries to explain it to Matt just one more time. "I said, 'The Bible says it's a sin. It also says, "Judge not lest ye be judged." I said, 'I don't know.' Three words that would make a nice addition to your vocabulary."
I cried during that whole scene. I'm not in Harriet's place, yet, having to balance career and my beliefs, but to be caught between that rock and that hard place...I do know a little of what it's like, and I've learned the hard way the value of saying, "I don't know," and I'm more than a little impressed with Aaron Sorkin for knowing it too.