Last night brought the most touted television debut of the fall season, in the form of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Aaron Sorkin's wildly autobiographical new show is certainly above average, and the writing, as usual, was superior to most of what's out there (this, of course, is not saying much) as every critic fell over himself to point out.
So, yes, it's a good show. We all agree on that.
Much has been made of Matthew Perry's return to the small screen, and of the chemistry between Perry and Bradley Whitford (who played Josh Lyman on The West Wing). They have potential, but they are miles away from the My-Ivy-League-School-Was-Better-Than-Your banter that Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) and Josh Lyman mastered, usually while walking down a hallway.
Part of this, admittedly, lies in my inability to get past the goofy, two-dimensional Chandler imprint that will forever shadow Perry. But mostly it has to do with the fact that he's trying to be a neurotic Jewish writer type (which is to say, a stand-in for Sorkin), but he just can't pull it off. If the show has one tragic flaw it is this: There is not a bespectacled Hebrew anyplace to be found. Come on. It's a tv show about a tv show. A comedic show. Set in Hollywood.
No Jews on the the fictional SNL-like show: That might be conceivable, for a given season. No Jews at the management level (apart from Ed Asner, who plays the Sumner Redstone-like head of the conglomerate that owns the network)? Unrealistic (we Jews control the media and the banks, of course, not to mention all the best brunch spots) but I'll accept it, for the sake of argument. But no Jews in the writer's room? Even Hee Haw had a couple of Jews on staff....just in case.
All of this is exceptionally odd for a show that seems, from the get go, intent on taking dead aim at the Religious Right, the morality police and traditional American values. Perry and Whitford are supposed to represent the left-leaning, overstimulated and thoughtful end of the spectrum (that is, the Jews or, at least, Sorkin, the Jew), but they just don't do the job that Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) did on Sorkin's previous show about his fantasy of being in the White House.
Hire some more Jews, Aaron. In this case, realism calls upon you to embrace the cliche.
Several readers have pointed out that the Judd Hirsch characte is, among others (including, possibly, the Steven Weber character) Jewish. Indeed, the Hirsch character is, though he's not a major presence (nor is he listed on the IMDB page for the show). My point was really that among the core group of main creative characters, there are too few Jews...or, rather, not enough Jewy characters, a la Toby and Josh.
Also: this is, more than anything, a jokey blog posting, not science.