I’ve still never watched an episode of The West Wing, and now I don’t plan to. In fact, I’m even afraid to go back and rewatch Sports Night, because I’m afraid that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip may have permanently ruined Aaron Sorkin’s writing for me.

In one episode, the show defends small-town, working-class America from the barbs of glib jokesters; in the next, it paints Tom’s parents as flyover rubes. In one scene, Simon takes Matt to task for letting his “white liberal guilt” influence his writing; the next, he’s “rescuing” people from the ‘hood. All the while, the show goes on and on and on about the fictional Studio 60′s grand history while I yell “Shut up!” at my TV set.

Lost amidst the endless monologues are the characters, who might be sympathetic and likable if Sorkin wasn’t determined to saddle them with his baggage. Danny is a miserable burnout with few signs of life left in him; Matt and Harriet have no spark; Jordan flip-flops wildly between confident professional woman and friendless, needy girl. None of them have a chance to develop into anything more, because Sorkin is only using them as soapboxes. Ironically, the only really enjoyable character is Steven Weber’s strawmanly villanous exec, Jack, probably because he’s not a mouthpiece for Sorkin, and therefore has time to actually be funny.

I might be able to forgive the fact that the sketches on the Saturday Night Live-like show-within-a-show aren’t at all funny, but even those are just vehicles for tiresome explanations of Gilbert and Sullivan and Commedia dell’Arte and why we’re all stupid for not already knowing about them. I don’t need Sorkin to lecture me on how culturally illiterate I am; Heroes may think its audience is stupid, but at least it doesn’t treat it with contempt.