Aaron Sorkin is both a screenwriter and a television creator behind shows like Sports Night (1998-2000), The West Wing(1999-2006), Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip(2006-2007), and The Newsroom (2012-2014).
Sorkin is one of my favorite television creators because he writes funny intelligent dramas that deal with relevant issues. Like Joss Whedon he creates characters that, while all unique, have some basic similarities. In this post I will point out all the female “Aaron Sorkin Archetypes”. And I will provide lists of characters who match them. There will be some overlap from the different shows.
1. Intellectual Boss Woman: This female character is incredibly intelligent. She has earned at the least one major degree. The Intellectual Boss Woman has a lot of experience in whatever field she is in and is quite accomplished. She most likely has won awards. The Intellectual Boss Woman is a figure of authority often throughout whole series, and sometimes only toward the end. She is funny and rules by wit. Like most Aaron Sorkin women The Intellectual Boss Woman is often (though not always) the love interest of the lead man who I will call “The Messiah”. Though its important to note that the Intellectual Boss Woman does not always get to date the “The Messiah”. She is often the boss of or has some power over The Messiah. This female character is always a workaholic with no actual life outside of the office. All of her friends are her work mates. or involved in whatever industry she is in whether it be journalism or politics. Finally, the Intellectual Boss Woman is somebody to be feared–if you mess with one of her people.
Examples: Mackenzie McHale, Jordan MacDeere, CJ Cregg and Dana Whitaker
2. Innocent Hardworking Up-And-Coming Woman: She is usually a secretary, assistant or some sort of deputy position. The Innocent Hardworking Up-And-Coming Woman is very good at what she does and has great instincts; yet this female character does make a bunch of rookie mistakes which can cause big problems for the whole group. She has a sort of biting sarcastic humor toward her boss who is usually one of The Messiah’s deputies. There is usually some sort of romantic tension between the Deputy and the Innocent Hardworking Up-And-Coming Woman, which does not happen until the end of the series or is off/on. She is vital to the team because if she did not practice her specialized skill, then the Deputy would be unable to do his job. Occasionally the Innocent Hardworking Up-And-Coming Woman works for The Messiah or The Intellectual Boss Woman. This female character has ambitions and is sometimes ruthless about in her efforts to achieve. She is an extreme hard worker who will do whatever to get the job done. The Innocent Hardworking Up-And-Coming Woman usually suffers some sort of trauma on the job, but that just makes her more intense and ambitious.
Examples: Natalie Hurley, Donna Moss, Suzanne, and Maggie Jordan
3. Older Wise Argumentative Woman: She is always the oldest woman on the show who has a sense of authority. The Older Wise Argumentative Woman is not officially part of the group. She is either married to The Messiah or owns the company where everybody works. She is extremely intelligent and uses her wit to reprimand the group. She often butts head with an older male character who I will call The Mentor. The Older Wise Argumentative Woman is more conservative than everybody else. She is always trying to punish The Messiah for going too far with is beliefs. She rightfully believes that his convictions gets the government or newsroom in trouble. The Older Wise Argumentative Woman is often the one to smooth over any problems that the team has. She may reprimand them, but she can be mothering and loving. The Older Wise Argumentative Woman will back the team up if she believes what they’re doing is right.
Examples: Leona Lansing and Abby Bartlet
3. Religious Clever Woman: She is religious or has a belief opposite to whatever the group believes. For example, if the group that works at the White House, a New York newsroom or a Saturday Night Live like show is liberal, then the Religious Clever Woman would be a Republican or a devout Christian. This female character uses her humor and intelligence to debate her point with the whole group. The Religious Clever Woman is open minded enough not to let one or multiple differing opinions stop her from working with these amazing people. She is as hard working and loyal to The Messiah as everybody else. She often is a love interest or close friend to The Messiah or one of the Deputies. The Religious Clever Woman has some sort of leadership position in the group. Everybody gives her a hard time, but they know she is loyal and make fun of her because they like her. The Religious Clever Woman defends people who have the same beliefs as her and will argue her case to the group, but she never supports extremists.
Examples: Ainsley Hayes, Harriet Hayes and Maggie Jordan