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Sports Night

Sophisticated dramedy features some mature themes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ethical issues surrounding stories that are covered and other production decisions are discussed. Friendship and professionalism are also themes.

Positive role models

The cast tries to be professionally supportive of one another; sometimes their personal lives get tied into their professional lives.


One episode deals with the ethics of hunting for sport, another deals with a bomb threat. A member of the fictional Sports Night team is sexually assaulted by an athlete in a locker room (the event is not shown). Guns and rifles are sometimes discussed.


Dating and relationships are themes.


Words like "damn," "crap," and "ass" used.


Conversations about sports teams and sports icons are endless, as are references to shows like The View and publications like USA Today. References to high-end logos like Manolo Blahniks and Chanel are common.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The de-criminalization of marijuana is discussed in one episode.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Sports Night (which originally aired in the late 1990's), is a smart dramatic comedy that has its lighthearted and quirky moments, but deals with some mature themes, too, including violence and sexual assault, and the decriminalization of marijuana. It also contains some iffy language ("ass," "damn," "crap") and occasional drinking. It's a bit too mature for tweens, but teens and adults looking for an entertainingly sophisticated comedy will find it here.

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What's the story?

Produced by Aaron Sorkin, SPORTS NIGHT (1998-2000) is a series about the behind-the-scenes antics of the creative staff of a fictional sports news show of the same title. It stars Peter Krause as anchor Casey McCall, who, along with long-time fellow anchor Dan Rydell (Josh Charles), managing editor Isaac Jaffe (Robert Guillaume), executive producer Dana Whitaker (played by Felicity Huffman), and assistant producers Natalie Hurley (Sabrina Lloyd) and Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina) produce a quality show that has the potential to push them out of third place in the ratings. They work hard and love what they do, but the pressure placed on them by the network creates some complicated personal and professional situations.

Is it any good?


Sports Night, which was inspired by shows like ESPN SportsCenter, combines humor and drama as it deals with themes surrounding contemporary sports, and often questions the ethics of some of the choices the media make when producing television. The relationship issues that develop between the cast lead to both comical and some not-so-funny, moments, including actor Robert Guillame's highly-publicized stroke, which was worked into the storyline.

Interestingly, the show made history by being a situation comedy that moved away from the traditional TV comedy elements of the time. It slowly eliminated the pre-recorded laugh track while it was on the air, and incorporated unique techniques that are now considered Sorkin trademarks, including the use of quick sarcastic exchanges, and the "walk and talk" (characters walking and talking quickly). As a result, many critics argue that it was canceled too soon. Nonetheless, today's viewers will appreciate the show's sophistication, as well as the stories being told here.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way TV shows transform over time. What kinds of things do we see in situation comedies today that we didn't see 10 years ago Are there things that were considered funny decades ago, but are considered inappropriate to laugh about today?

  • What kinds of unique challenges come with producing a successful sports show? Do you think this series offers a realistic portrayal of what those challenges are?

TV details

Premiere date:September 22, 1998
Cast:Felicity Huffman, Josh Charles, Peter Krause
Networks:FX, Syndicated
Topics:Sports and martial arts
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Sports Night was written by

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