Aaron Sorkin, creator of Sports Night, Studio 60, and The Newsroom, has come under fire recently for comments he made in an email explaining why his shows lack any complex female characters. His reasoning that “women’s mouths just can’t move as quickly as men’s mouths,” makes it hard for him to write the characters he so badly wants to write.
“It’s true, there is a lack of depth to most roles written for women, but a writer can only write for the talent that’s out there,” says Sorkin. “Male actors can speak quickly and loudly, or quickly and softly. Women just don’t have that kind of range.”
Sorkin seemed to be referring to the cinematic motif he created known as the “brisk walk and talk,” where characters demonstrate their intelligence by showing off their ability to quickly form words while simultaneously putting one foot in front of the other.
He went on to add, “I’ll write more complex female characters when actresses learn to speak faster.”
When contacted to ask if he’d like to explain such comments, Sorkin replied, “Look, I love women. I was even married to one. That’s how I know how slow their mouths move.”
When forced to respond to allegations of sexism in his work, Sorkin concluded, “If you want to criticize my writing by identifying my female characters as overtly emotional and sometimes shallow, then fine. Many of my shows depict idealized work environments and the men and women who work in those environments. And in an ideal world, the men would always get the job done, and women would support them. Obviously that doesn’t require a lot of dialogue.”
Sorkin said all of this while walking down a never-ending hallway.