Studio 60: In Search of Matt Albie

Who is the real Matt Albie?

This may be the best gimmick to come down the pike in years. Studio 60's got me believing that they've hired the absolute best creative team in comedy to work with the most talented comedians around for their show within a show. And as of the second episode, I know–I dread–that I will never get to watch one episode of the fictional sketch comedy. Not one. 

Sure, we get to watch the triumphant opening, the segment that will raise the beleaguered show from the ashes. We get to watch as these much-hyped comic minds experience their flashes of inspired brilliance that will magically revive their beloved show. But will we ever get to see this show? This brilliant, magical, laugh-out-loud, thought-provoking show? No! I say, bring on the funny!

They've frustrated me this much by the second episode, but it's working. Because I'll keep coming back for more.

Matthew Perry's character, Matt Albie, has yet to be fleshed out, merely reacting to each situation he's placed in. Last episode, he'd had back surgery, and his meds were making him manic. This episode, he's scared of the giant clock in his new office which counts down the seconds until the next showtime. Upon seeing the clock, he says of the office's former occupant, "No wonder he went crazy."

Albie’s on deadline, and it's driving him crazy. He's working with writers assembled by the hacks Ricky and Ron, and it's driving him crazy. We don't even meet Ron in this episode, and Ricky (Evan Handler) is barely there. Apparently, the mere idea of working with these two is enough to drive him crazy.

The big reveal is that Albie’s not over his relationship with his star, Harriet Hayes. Maybe we'll get to see Albie do more than react to his surroundings. Maybe we'll even get to meet Ron.

The "Crazy Christians" sketch, written by Albie before his unceremonious departure four years earlier, is used in this episode, as in the last, to raise the ire among conservative religious viewers. Amanda Peet's Jordan McDeere refuses to allow the conservatives to dictate what her network, NBS, will show to the rest of the country. She "magnanimously" says that they can turn off their TVs.

Sarah Paulson's conservative Christian, Harriet Hayes, has more of the focus in this episode because of her past relationship with Albie than her status as the resident religious character. I like the idea of her character–she dodges the Hollywood stereotype of the religious conservative who tries to force their point of view down the throats of everyone around them. Harriet is a step forward, meant to show that the entertainment establishment recognizes that those who disagree with them aren't all cut from the same mold.

But in tempering the character, they've turned her into something of a milquetoast. This story arc should revolve around Harriet Hayes, but instead they give her the distraction of a failed relationship with her current boss. Hopefully future episodes flesh out the religious aspect of the character, because right now she merely wears it as a mask. What will happen to Harriet after this storyline has run its course?

By Guest Blogger Liz McKeon