In the entire Pop Culture landscape, there is probably no more polarizing figure than Aaron Sorkin… and I’m just talking about inside my head. One of the few pure screenwriters to have a style distinctive enough to create his own ouevre, Sorkin is great at writing dialogue, writing inspiring speeches, writing about political issues; he can be inspiring and infuriating, intelligent and insipid; plus, he’s egomaniacally insane.
Sorkin’s career has thus far had three eras. First came his trilogy of filmed plays (A Few Good Men, Malice, The American President), which culminate in a memorable monologue, are endlessly rewatchable, and are the movie equivalent of delicious, empty calories.
Then came the trilogy of television shows that turned Sorkin into a star: the incomplete Sports Night, the great West Wing (Seasons 1-4), and the abortion that was Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. All these shows featured a speech-heavy style, self-important characters, and moments of touching transcendence. It’s no coincidence that Sorkin’s most successful original movie and television show were both set in the White House, one of the few places on Earth that can match the grandiosity he gives to his characters (plus, he somehow was able to conjure up Barack Obama a decade before his election).
After the disaster of Studio 60, Sorkin embarked on a trilogy of non-fiction screenplays (Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network and Moneyball). These allowed him to bring his talents for structure and dialogue to a preexisting framework that kept him away from his worst excesses (plus, he was able to conjure up the most adorable screen pixie since Shirley Temple got her period).
Now, in a grand showbiz tradition, Sorkin has used his recent success to return to the form that almost destroyed him with HBO’s The Newsroom. So, has he changed at all?