Isaac Mother-f-in’ Jaffe

I accidentally forgot to mail this in to the AV Club in time—but the wonderful Laura Browning squeezed my paean to Sports Night‘s Isaac Jaffe into this AVQ&A about ideal fictional bosses. I am weirdly happier about this seeing print than anything I’ve written recently. I just want Isaac Jaffe to say, “Good job, son,” is that to much to ask?

I’ve got an inconvenient need to only work at places, and for people, that I can respect, and there’s no fictional boss who fills me with the desire to serve more than Sports Night’s Isaac Jaffe, played by a never-better Robert Guillaume. As the stern yet fatherly managing editor of a group of underfunded yet principled newspeople, Isaac always fights the good fights, even after Guillaume’s real-life stroke forced series creator Aaron Sorkin to incorporate the actor’s post-recovery enfeeblement into Jaffe’s daily battles against those seeking to undermine his show’s integrity. Watching the show (still my choice for Sorkin’s best), I invariably see myself in Josh Charles’ hotheaded co-anchor Dan Rydell, who, like me, sees his job as a way to prove himself, especially to surrogate father figure Jaffe. Like Danny, I get choked up in something like worshipful awe as Jaffe—risking certain backlash from his alumni boss—gives a stirring on-air defense of a black football player refusing to play under the Confederate flag at his Southern college’s stadium in the episode “The Six Southern Gentlemen Of Tennessee.” Also like Danny, I’m certain I’d have to be periodically reminded by Isaac that hero-worship is ultimately a self-defeating trait, and that work, no matter how idealistically you commit yourself to it, is no substitute for a real life.

And one more. I love Isaac Jaffe.

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