“You got to have a lot invested in something to boot as spectacularly as I did before that first show. I really believe I’m a big part of this. I’d be crazy not to stick around and see how it turned out.”
– Natalie Hurley (Sports Night; Bells and a Siren)
It’s the age old question in life. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Even as little kids, we turn and ask some as young as five or six about their dream job, or if they want to grow up just like their parents. And, most likely, those answers never stay the same.
Those little kids want to be teachers, or doctors, or firefighters – something heroic and important – someone who they see as a hero. They want to grow up to be just like their parents or their teachers, because in a little kid’s eyes, they are the rulers of the world. Not many of them realize how many options are really out there until they get older, and by the time you’ve realized this, you’re thrown into a world that forces you to have chosen a career path before you’re barely an adult.
I was one of those ones who was unsure. Throughout high school, I thought I wanted to work in the medical field; House MD was my go-to show at the time and to this day, I still have a tattoo inspired by the show on my left shoulder. And when my mother was diagnosed with her heart condition, I felt even more compelled to find reasoning to want to work in the medical field. But at the end of the day, I knew it wouldn’t be what made me happy.
After graduation, I spent a lot of time trying to decide where I saw myself going in the future. For a long time, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go back to school; I had tried to take some college classes after graduation and couldn’t find myself to stay focused. I thought of working with children during my days at the daycare, to going to work in the medical field again, then back to writing. But I have always had a passion for creating fan videos for my favorite shows. (I have an entire thread on twitter dedicated to this and you can find one of the videos at the bottom of this post.)
It was around this time that I began another rewatch of my favorite show, Sports Night, which follows a slightly disorganized and half in shambles crew of the nightly sports channel. The only thing that had originally drawn me to this show was the fact that some of the main cast were now on other shows and movies that I had grown to love. (Most significantly Josh Charles from The Good Wife, Felicity Huffman from Desperate Housewives, Joshua Malina from Scandal and the late Robert Guillaume, who voiced Rafiki in The Lion King.) But, very soon after, I realized just how much the show was going to impact my life.
Sports Night was created by the same man as The West Wing – Aaron Sorkin – and you could almost say that his show, The Newsroom, is the more modernized version of Sports Night, aside from the slight change of setting. For being set in the late 1990s, the fact that the show still has such a loyal fanbase after all this time shocks me. (Earlier this week when Robert Guillaume’s death was announced, the cast of Sports Night all referenced the loss of their tv boss, and many fans acknowledged the tweets with references to Guillaume’s character, Isaac Jaffe.)
But for me, it was Dana Whitacker’s (Huffman) slightly scatter-brained but deeply loyal, senior associate Natalie Hurley. From the first time we’re introduced to Natalie, she’s running in all sorts of directions, making sure that the show will run smoothly. You ask her to jump, and she’ll ask you how high – and even when there’s the fear she has been sexually assaulted by a well-known guest on their show that evening, she insists to stay for the broadcast because, as she puts it, she’s “got a show in 38 minutes. I’d like to be able to do my job.” When she fears for her job, she puts her dedication over the security of having a much better paying job because of her loyalty to her show. And at the end of each day, she puts her dedication to Sports Night over anything that stands in her way, even when it may affect the people around her.
It was in that realization that I realized I could be someone like Natalie, or even Dana, if I wanted to be. I could find a way to tell stories and edit video footage together, all while finding a way to earn money. While my own goals may not be exactly like Natalie’s, it’s enough that it has inspired me to follow my dreams and be happiest in a career that I know how much will continue to inspire me. And, not to mention that I already have goals on where I want to see myself by the time I graduate university in June of 2020.
— reena (@katherynmae) June 6, 2017
So thank you Sports Night, for proving to be the little show that could, and influencing my career choices.
Each time I fail, I get my people together and I say, ‘Where are we going?’ And it starts to get better. And that’s what you should do.
– The Stranger (Sports Night; Quo Vadimus)