A couple of favorite Sorkin characters

If you’re a TV fan, Aaron Sorkin is a name you probably recognize. He wrote the hit TV series ‘The West Wing’ (1999-2006), and also wrote the screenplay for the Facebook movie ‘The Social Network’ and the baseball movie ‘Moneyball’. His latest TV show ‘The Newsroom’ recently aired its final episode, and though far from a perfect show, it definitely proved again that Sorkin knows how to entertain. Known for his fast-paced ping pong dialogue and (overly?) smart characters, his TV series are sometimes not always easy to follow. They are, however, definitely worth watching. Here are a couple of my favorite characters from ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Newsroom’:


Toby Ziegler in ‘The West Wing’

played by Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler in 'The West Wing'
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler in ‘The West Wing’

Richard Schiff plays Toby Ziegler, the Communications Director, and one of the President’s closest and most important staff members. Schiff is excellent as the smart, morose and cynical idealist most everybody watching the show is destined to like. One might not always agree with his decisions, but you’d probably still do your best to avoid ending up in a discussion with him, as he’s the kind of guy that could probably crush you in a discussion on any subject. Schiff won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Toby Ziegler in 2000, and it couldn’t have been more deserved.

Claypool: How pregnant is your ex-wife?
Toby Ziegler: As I understand pregnancy, it’s a binary state. You either are or you aren’t.


Reese Lansing in ‘The Newsroom’

played by Chris Messina

Chris Messina is a brilliant actor, and shines as the President of AWN, parent company of ACN, the network who runs “News Night”, the news show hosted by Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). Slick and money oriented, Reese is everything you’d come to expect from a man in his position, but there are still times where you can’t help finding his style, if not likable, at least a tiny bit intriguing. And definitely entertaining.

Josh Lyman in ‘The West Wing’

played by Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford flanked by co-stars Janel Moloney and Rob Lowe
Bradley Whitford flanked by co-stars Janel Moloney and Rob Lowe

Josh Lyman, played by Bradley Whitford, is the Chief of Staff and Chief Political Advisor in the Bartlett administration. As with previously mentioned Toby Ziegler, Lyman is a sharp character. However, where Ziegler is the quiet and morose type, Lyman is talkative, charming and, at times, fairly cocky. Bradley Whitford suits Aaron Sorkin’s writing; he also played in the TV show ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’, also written by Sorkin. Together with Ziegler, probably my favorite character from the wonderful 6 season long political show. Not seen it yet? Check it out. Seen it already? Watch it again. I sure have, and I will again. And again… and again.

Mandy Hampton: It really bugs you that the President listens to me sometimes.
Josh Lyman: Yes, but you shouldn’t take it personally. It bugs me when the President listens to anyone who isn’t me.


Sloan Sabbith in ‘The Newsroom’

played by Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn as Sloan Sabbith in 'The Newsroom'
Olivia Munn as Sloan Sabbith in ‘The Newsroom’

What Sloan Sabbith does not know about economy isn’t worth knowing. Olivia Munn is brilliant as the quirky economic expert with awkward social skills. By far the best female character of the show, especially in the last 2 seasons. Balances the awkwardness and brilliance with perfection, and also showed range when she delivered one of the best emotional scenes of the show opposite Don Keefer (played by Tomas Sodoski).


Those were just a couple of my favorite characters, and purely a selection, not to be meant as a top four. Others that could have just as easily been mentioned: Don Keefer, Rebecca Halliday, Leona Lansing, Will McAvoy (all ‘The Newsroom’) and C.J. Gregg, President Bartlett, Leo McGarry and Amy Gardner (all ‘The West Wing’).


‘The Newsroom’ is officially done. Can we expect more TV action from Sorkin? I certainly hope so.

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