Mostly I started this blog so I could rant about how much I hate The Newsroom. I’m only sort of kidding. Not many of my friends have been watching it, so I’m kind of running out of people to vent to.
The thing about The Newsroom is, on paper, it sounds like it should be a good show. It has a fairly impressive cast and it’s written and created by Aaron Sorkin and clearly someone has done some research about big, nightly news shows and the way major networks covered major news stories in the past couple years and so on. This set up all sounds like it should make for a good show, and that’s why I was especially disappointed when I realized The Newsroom is TOTALLY NOT A GOOD SHOW.
I should probably note that I haven’t seen a lot of the work Sorkin is best known for. I’ve seen a few episodes of The West Wing and a few of Studio 60. I liked what I saw of The West Wing. Also, I loved The Social Network and I liked Moneyball a lot, too. And that was a movie about sports! I hate movies about sports.
One of the problems with The Newsroom is its central character, Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels). I think he’s supposed to be some kind of loveable asshole, who might appear to be horrendously pompous and obnoxious, but deep down inside, he has a heart of gold. I think this is supposed to make him complicated and layered, but I don’t buy it. I wish he was just an asshole all the time, because when he does things like act surprised to learn people dislike him, it just comes across as disingenuous.
Also, his “inspiring” speeches are the worst thing ever. Can you imagine if you knew this guy and had to listen to him say this shit on a daily basis? He says a lot of junk about the importance of “true” journalists, out in the field, reporting on the real stories shaping the world. This doesn’t ring true because, supposedly, right before the show began, Will was pandering to advertisers and reporting whatever his bosses at the network wanted him to. Now that he’s randomly developed integrity, he feels inclined to lecture everyone around him about the ways in which they aren’t living up to his standards, and it’s totally annoying. In the most recent episode he took offence when some gossip mag lady called herself a journalist. After calling her out on it, he proceeded to say he could use his position as a news anchor to ruin her. Um, what? Oh, so that’s good journalism. OK.
The whole premise of the show is also just so obnoxious. Basically in every episode we go back in time a year or two ago, and Sorkin tells us how he would have reported the news. (He would have known everything! He definitely would have known which aspects of the story were the most important before the entire story had even unfolded! He would never have made a single mistake or gotten a single fact wrong ever!) I don’t even think I find this annoying as a journalist, I think I find this annoying as a television viewer. It’s basically the equivalent of looking back at any historical event and saying you would have handled it better, with the benefit of knowing exactly how everything is going to turn out. I mean, no one knew how serious something like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was going to be until more of the facts came out. They didn’t just know based on having two incredibly convenient sources, which is what happens in the pilot of The Newsroom. That’s stupid, and it feels like a cheap cop-out.
OK, there are way more things I hate about The Newsroom, but I think this is going to be a two-parter. Next time I’ll tell you why I hate the way women are portrayed on the show! I don’t think anyone else anywhere on the Internet has ever addressed that aspect, so you’re in for a treat.