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The Studio > > > Recaps & Reviews > > > "Sports Night" Character Analysis: Introduction and "Pilot"
"Sports Night" Character Analysis:
by Chase Nordengren

Dan: Boy, I'd love to be out of the loop on the next piece of drama that's gonna happen around here.

Welcome to the insanity of my obsession. Since I started watching "Sports Night," I've felt a deep connection to the characters and the show. This is the place. In my feature, I'll be looking at the episodes individually as to how they fit into the scope of the series and the scope of each character's personality and experiences.

Because of the great creative mind of creator/writer/producer Aaron Sorkin, Dan, Dana, Casey, Jeremy, Natalie, and Isaac are all very complex and human. Over the next 90 weeks, come with me as we explore these people, their relations with themselves, each other, and their show.


Even though Aaron Sorkin tends to break the traditional structure of episodic TV, the following is a basic outline of the average episode:

  • A Story: A dramatic story, usually having to do with a character's personality or their relations with others
  • B Story: Sometimes dramatic, sometimes funny ; normally involving a sports story the team is following that has to do with whatever the A story's about
  • C Story: Usually funny, a side story for comic relief, about the insanity of various characters

Keep in mind, this is how it normally is, but things will get changed as we go along.


Obviously, I recommend watching the episode or reading the summary before you read this. Believe me, I will spoil the entire episode, and it's better to see the art first hand first. Beyond that, I reserve the right to spoil episodes of the West Wing, and the movies The American President and A Few Good Men. Mostly, however, I will do this to make connections between characters. I will try to keep myself in check on "upcoming" episodes of "Sports Night," but there aren't any guarantees.

In closing, I'm not a psychologist. (Which means I technically can't psycho-analyze) But I'm going to anyway, if only because the crew needs it. Please come with me as we explore humor, morality and the human condition, on the 45 episode roller coaster that is Sports Night.

"Sports Night" Character Analysis:
by Chase Nordengren

Casey: I have a seven-year-old son, that I get to see on Wednesdays and alternate weekends and these are his heros. And now six days a week they're also his male role models.

  • A Story: Casey's still reeling from his divorce, and his on air performance shows it
  • B Story: An unknown named Ntozake Nelson is about to break the 15,000 meter record
  • C Story: The crew hires a new research analyst named Jeremy Goodwin. (The execution of this is so cheesy, I'm not even talking about it)

For those of you new to the series, let me start by saying PLEASE don't give up on the show because of this episode. Watch the next three at least, you'll thank me later. Now, most of us hardcore fans dislike this episode because of the hideous and overused laugh track, and the misrepresentation of Jeremy and Isaac. Jeremy's perceived as quirky and not with it, so we'll leave his personality for later. Isaac seems to hostile too, it seems. Still, look over the laugh track, and this episode has many redeeming points.


Obviously, we find the whole crews dedicated to this show. Dana informs us that she "lives from 11 to midnight," illustrating that this is the most important thing in her life. (This will come into play later.) She is comparable to "The West Wing's" C.J. They're both independent career women, making it in a male-dominated business. I have more, but I don't want to spoil the series.


The B story, and the conference room meeting underlines this for all the characters. Dan's speech after Casey storms out shows his dedication to his partner. This is a very crucial male friendship. They've known each other forever, and they're both dedicated to each other. Dan is also going through one of his famous phases known as the "New York Renaissance." He seems to do this to distract himself from Casey's problems, but when those problems come to a head, he gets serious. He's comparable to "The West Wing's" Josh, in that they both seem to be controlling guys, who care for all the people around them.

Natalie, we see, has a very similar friendship to Dana. We also note her obsession with Jeremy, and the way she says it projects her as young, and still getting used to the world and living in New York. We don't see her full depth here, and it's a shame, but I'm not going to criticize Aaron Sorkin. It's incredibly difficult to explain all of an ensemble cast in 22 minutes.


That leaves us with Casey. He's obviously the center of this episode. The character is loosely based on "Sportscenter" anchor Craig Kilborn. We see big friendships with Dan and Dana. Dan is his best friend, and they both know to keep each other in check. Dana is the source of Casey's emotional draw, and she also tries to keep him in check. He just got a divorce, and is disappointed primarily because he's losing his son. We see him struggle with being a good father, while being away from his son. The phone call at the end is touching, and the best scenes in the episode.

So, all in all, not the greatest "Sports Night," but better than most stuff on TV. In the scope of the series, it established everything, and kept ABC at bay for a while.

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