What Is It About?
Will McAvoy is a popular nighttime news host. He’s compared to someone like Jay Leno because he doesn’t bother anyone, has no strong opinions about anything, thus garnering a following of people he can barely even tolerate. When prompted to answer a question during a panel at a university, he basically flies off the rails and gives an extremely brutally honest response boiling down to the point that America is not the greatest country in the world like everyone claims it is. The show takes off from there, showing us the inner workings of Will’s newsroom filled with a staff off supporting characters.
When It’s On
Sundays on HBO.
What You Should Know
It is written by Aaron Sorkin.
This show brilliantly articulates so many things people are feeling about the current state of news and media. And if some people aren’t feeling it, they will after watching this. It’s also a show that will surely alienate others simply because there is no way a show that is so political and so polarizing wouldn’t be just those things do the very people it is trying to suck in.
Jeff Daniels gives a wonderful performance as our lead. Emily Mortimer also manages to stand out above the rest. Her character MacKenzie is a mix between a hardworking executive producer, as well as somewhat of a romantic with a past connection to Will. It’s an extremely complex character and Mortimer plays her flawlessly, giving us everything we need at just the right moments.
Sorkin wants us to realize that the news has been failing us for years, pandering to whichever brand, label, idea and belief that suits their bias for the time. He succeeds greatly in not only that, but building a story for each character and getting us to not only care about his point of view, but the point of view of each individual.
What Doesn’t Work?
For all its greatness in one pilot, The Newsroom has one major flaw, and that is it feels somewhat like it was written for broadcast television. It’s a great pilot, but doesn’t necessarily feel like HBO. Granted, that means nothing at this point, but the truth is there is a bit too much slapstick and writing of scenes that seem poised for a commercial break to immediately follow. There are punchlines that don’t deliver. There are moments of sitcom squaller.
Additionally, I would really appreciate it if Sorkin didn’t take every imaginable liberty to write his opinions on everything during a television series. First and foremost, this is a TV show, not a platform for an agenda from a Hollywood screenwriter. Leave the pretension on the cutting room floor.
Should You Watch?
Absolutely. This is television with a brain.
The Newsroom is one of the smartest and most unique shows I’ve seen all year. Sorkin should be applauded for writing a show with no frills, no nonsense, no gimmicks. In an overstuffed summer schedule of too much science fiction and an over abundance of horrendous reality television, The Newsroom is a very welcome dosage of good old fashioned scripted TV with good writing and great acting. I was fully expecting your basic newsroom drama, but was surprised to find a show that is actually quite moving. For all the sarcasm, quick dialogue, and expected banter we would expect from most Sorkin material, there is something here I was surprised by. The Newsroom has heart.
Edited To Add
Admittedly, this pilot was great. But this show has since become abysmal, relying solely on speechifying and Sorkin using his television platform to infect the audience with his opinions on everything. The Newsroom is no longer a television show, rather an essay nobody cares about. We’re over it. You should be too.