But the overwhelming thrust of ”West Wing,” and of Sorkin’s work in general, has nothing do with the darkness so apparent in his life or what he calls ”the whole black world of addiction.” His show is a tour de force of Hollywood professionalism. Every piece of dialogue is spit-polished within an inch of its life. The story lines, worked over by a roomful of Ivy League graduates, land softly with just that right little narrative twist. The acting is gracefully understated, and the lighting and direction are all far better than in most movies. With references to Shakespeare and Graham Greene, visits to rare-book stores and oblique Latin episode titles like ”Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc,” the show is so achingly high end that you almost expect the warning ”Quality Television” to start flashing below the picture.
Sorkin’s intense reluctance to share writing credit and his need to create such uniformly positive characters seem to come from the same place. If the reason that you are writing scripts in the first place is to undo the terrible impression you believe others have of you, you would want to make sure that people know exactly who wrote them. ”I don’t want to analyze myself or anything, but I think, in fact I know this to be true, that I enter the world through what I write. I grew up believing, and continue to believe, that I am a screw-up, that growing up with my family and friends, I had nothing to offer in any conversation. But when I started writing, suddenly there was something that I brought to the party that was at a high-enough level.”
Peter de Jonge on Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing for The New York Times