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'Sports Night' nostalgia recap: The tennis match that wouldn't die

Season 1 | Episode 17 | “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” | Aired Mar 9, 1999

Tennis gets a bad rap in the 17th episode of Sports Night, where a tennis match that refuses to die seriously kills something in the relationship between Casey and Dana—never mind that he knows her boyfriend is cheating with the same woman he’s sleeping with. Hey, it’s not tennis’ fault you two can’t work your stuff out.

After Aaron Sorkin himself tells us which router we’re up on tonight, Jeremy is writing another letter to his sister, Louise, about how someone no one else cares about named Alberto Fedregotti refuses to capitulate to Pete Sampras. The continuation of the tennis match is holding up Sports Night, which is making Dana complain incessantly. See, she had plans with Gordon and doesn’t want to upset him, despite the fact that he stood her up not so long ago. Gordon continues to believe that Dana prioritizes Sports Night above him—hey, wasn’t this the exact same issue she had a monologue about, three episodes ago?

Meanwhile, Dan still wants to talk to Casey about Casey’s romantic problem—at least until he gets one of his own. Elaine, the woman Dan was supposedly going to dump in order to go out with Rebecca, called Dan’s office and got Rebecca. This doesn’t earn Dan any brownie points with the woman he’s only had two dates with. But then Casey tells Dan about discovering Gordon’s affair with Sally Sasser (Brenda Strong), and suddenly no one gives a damn about Elaine. “Why is Dana still with him?” Dan wonders, before connecting the dots and realizing that Casey doesn’t want to tell Dana because then Dana would know he’s sleeping with Sally too.

The one thing Casey is sure about is that Dana will not admit defeat and dump their show … but Dana is getting more pressure from Gordon, this time in person. He guilt-trips her ear off, insisting that she needs to give him something. So Dana walks into her staff meeting and hands the show off to Sally. Over the stunned looks from Dan and Casey, Jeremy sums this moment up perfectly: “I understand what makes a woman think that any man is better than nothing. I’ll just never understand what makes a woman think she’s got nothing.” Preach, brother.

Rebecca has gotten over the Elaine issue to be way too excited about the production of a live sports show at one in the morning, possibly because Dan has promised that he won’t make a fool out of her (like Gordon is making out of Dana). And although Fedregotti eventually does lose to Sampras like he was expected to all along, his more than valiant effort gives Jeremy something to point toward as he assures Louise that the two of them will make it through their parents’ impending divorce, which then becomes the center of next week’s episode.

If you didn’t hate Gordon before, there’s no way that you’re not rooting for him to be hit with something heavy now. While you can understand the direction he’s coming from as far as Dana being so devoted to Sports Night that it hampers their relationship, it is not okay for him to make her feel terrible about herself because of it. He certainly doesn’t get the right to pressure her into doing something she doesn’t want to at the same time that he’s cheating on her. And if he happens to know that Sally is Dana’s office nemesis (which you’d think he would if he paid any attention to her work, but that’s presuming he pays attention to her work), then that’s even more of a party foul. At this point, he needs to go, and it’s obvious that he’s going to.

The real issue in “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” is what Dana’s decision does to the relationship between Dana and Casey, professionally and personally. Casey has the reverse problem; to him, dumping the show sends the message that Gordon is more important to Dana than Sports Night. She’s turning her back on her responsibilities and her team, which isn’t cool even if it’s well within her power to do. Plus, he knows she’s doing it for a man who’s treating her like crap. Each of these guys wants Dana on his side, and she’s just kind of caught in the middle. But the problem is that she’s too insecure to make a decision one way or the other. Sometimes, Dana makes absolutely terrible decisions, and this would be one of them.

But that’s a common theme in Sports Night and, in fact, in most workplace series: people who are brilliant at their jobs and clueless in their personal lives. Just once, it’d be interesting to see a show about people who can be both professionally competent and personally secure. They don’t have to be perfect, but we could give them a little more credit. Then maybe we wouldn’t have characters feeling like they need to appease boyfriends that they’re too good for anyway.

Sports Night is available on Hulu.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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