Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

01 Nov 2001, 8:55 a.m.

Aaron Sorkin often has various characters in "The West Wing"…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Aaron Sorkin often has various characters in "The West Wing" say the same line throughout an episode. "Did you get the new EPA stats on child asthma?" repeated various characters to Josh last night. They also inform each other of things they already know. "We don't have the votes for an override." "We need a whip count." "Seven Republicans just said they're not coming." "The chemical abbreviation for table salt is NaCl."

One reason for this trope -- a trope that Leonard noticed last night -- is to intensify the dramatic sense of the White House as a single entity with many mouths. They try out soundbites on each other, they care about the same things, they intensely focus on the same issues simultaneously, they try to back each other up.

Another reason might be so Aaron Sorkin can save time using copy-and-paste instead of having to write new dialogue.