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THR Emmy Roundtable: Aaron Sorkin on Why He Stopped Watching 'West Wing' (Video)

The showrunner says viewing the first episode after he’d left the show “was like watching somebody make out with my girlfriend.”

For a showrunner, watching your series after you leave is a little like seeing “someone make out with” your girlfriend. At least that’s how Aaron Sorkin (HBO’s The Newsroom) described it during The Hollywood Reporters drama showrunner roundtable.

Sorkin recalled that after leaving The West Wing, he received some friendly advice from Larry David – who’d left Seinfeld before the end of its run. David told him never to watch The West Wing again, saying, “Either it's going to be great and you're gonna be miserable, or it's gonna be less than great and you're gonna be miserable. But either way, you're gonna be miserable."

Sorkin said he didn’t heed David’s advice, and popped in a DVD that Warner Bros. sent him of the season five premiere, the first episode since he’d left.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of THR's Drama Showrunner Roundtable

“And I can't tell you whether it was great or not because less than 30 seconds after it started, I dove at the DVD player and slammed it off. It was like watching somebody make out with my girlfriend,” Sorkin said. “[It was] so difficult to watch these characters in this world that I had created no longer needing me at all. Just doing it by themselves.”

Beau Willimon (Netflix’s House of Cards) said he had a similar experience after leaving Dawson’s Creek.

“I couldn't watch it anymore. It was my personal story, it was my growing up, it was my life. It hurt too much,” Willimon said.

The pair were joined by fellow Emmy contenders Alex Gansa (Showtime’s Homeland), Matthew Weiner (AMC’s Mad Men), D.B. Weiss (HBO’s Game of Thrones) and Kevin Williamson (Fox’s The Following).

The roundtable discussion was moderated by THR executive editor Matthew Belloni and senior editor Stacey Wilson.