Aaron Sorkin is an Academy Award winner now, which perhaps means he can stop being mad at NBC for sticking with 30 Rockover Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, his own behind-the-scenes look at late night television. Certainly his cameo on 30 Rock last night would seem to suggest that. Both shows debuted on the network in 2006, but only 30 Rock returned the next year. This wasn't unreasonable, explain the New York Times's Dave Itzkoff. Audiences really can't be blamed for gravitating toward Tina Fey's "rapid-fire sitcom containing zany shenanigans, wacky hijinks and roughly 100 jokes per minute" and shunning Sorkin's "hour-long drama about philosophical and aesthetic debates, the pioneering satire of Gilbert and Sullivan, and, somehow, the delicacy of hostage negotiations during wartime."
Sorkin acknowledged as much during his cameo last night. In the process, he propelled a show known for doubling-back on itself to new, self-referential heights. The fact that the episode aired after a particularly My Dinner With Andre-heavy installment ofCommunity prompted Salon's Drew Grant to wonder if the two shows had "reached their respective peaks in terms of a meta-media analysis" on the very same night. Itzkoff notes that even the staging of Fey and Sorkin's scene was an in-joke, "[parodying] the verbose walk-and-talk style [Sorkin] helped popularize."
At TV Squad, Bob Sassone was charmed by Sorkin's willingness to poke fun at himself, especially in light of the potshots Fey took at Studio 60 when it was on the air. "[H]ow great was it that they even had Liz bring up 'Studio 60' after Sorkin left it off of his list of accomplishments and he told her to shut up?" Sassone enthused. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker summed it up in a word. "Brilliant."