Aaron Sorkin Figured Me Out


By: Connor Lenahan

I’ve been in that planning process that every college student needs to pass through towards the end of their time in school for a few weeks now. You’ve spent your life in school and the road ahead has been roughly set, more or less, with only slight variations on where you’ll go to college or if you have something else in store. Now comes the real question: What next? Is it grad school? A job? Eating a bunch of chips and refusing to make the decision until you’re absolutely forced? All of the above?

I have been trying to answer the question for a while, but only recently has it become real. Now there are applications to be sent and job interviews to be scheduled. The problem is that I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. I’m not sure anyone ever truly does, but there are friends of mine that have a far clearer idea. Pre-med students are heading to med school next. Law school is up next for some. Two of my roommates are trying to get jobs in business. Other communications students are interviewing for CNN and applying to work on independent films. I’m just trying to narrow the search.

I was looking for an easy way to encapsulate my attitudes toward what I’d really love to do when it finally clicked the other day. Ironically, my mom had given me the key to the focus a while ago, but I was stubborn enough to put it off until this summer. One of her favorite shows of all time is Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night, the predecessor to The Newsroom, and in many ways its superior. In the second season, the title show within Sports Night hires Sam Donovan (William H. Macy) to try and help their broadcast improve. When network executives threaten the show, Donovan comes to their rescue with one of Sorkin’s best monologs.

This story of Philo Farnsworth and Cliff Gardner working together in the name of something important will likely become one of the most important clips in television to my life as I work towards graduating Boston University. The crux of Donovan’s story talks about Cliff Gardner, who helped Farnsworth to realize his invention of television. Gardner couldn’t come up with such an idea on his own, but he knew how to help make it a reality. He could be valuable. As Donovan says, he could make glass tubes.

This is the ethos of what I’d love to do. The most pleasurable times I have ever had in my life are helping to make things great for those around me. My weekly fantasy football articles? I love that they give another goofy dimension for a game to my best friends and family. My favorite moment in my career in speech and debate in high school came in coaching my friend Gannon Palmiter to a States berth and tournament win in my best event, one where he beat me no less, in under three weeks. I want to use what goofy talents I have to try and make people happy. I’m someone who knows how to do things. I can, albeit metaphorically, make glass tubes.

The road after college isn’t crystal clear yet, although the choices are becoming far clearer. But I keep coming back to the same ideas over and over. I want to help people. I study television, and when I see people like Donald Glover blowing away expectations with Atlanta I am driven to try and help more creative people get their shows made and their voices heard. I don’t care about being the guy on stage giving the acceptance speech, I care about getting my people on the stage period.

I think I’m starting to figure out what life is going to be after college. I never knew how exciting that prospect would be.