WARNING: Spoilers for Newsroom up to the second last episode.
I watched the second last episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom last night and it was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed Don’s discussion of the rape website and Sloan’s take-down of the stalking app. On the other hand, I audibly groaned when they started going into the Maggie/Jim relationship.
They seem like they’re more brother and sister, so when they kissed it was the least romantic kiss I’ve seen in a long time. I wouldn’t have thought they could go lower than that, but Charlie’s death in the show was outright comical. When everyone started running in slow motion, I didn’t feel sad, just exasperated.
Newsroom is a show that’s been split right down the middle for me. The actual message of it, of reporters covering the news rather than conveying press releases, is great. The characters, however, are one dimensional cyphers with almost no personality at all.
I keep thinking back to Donna and Josh in West Wing. Or even Matt and Jordan in Studio 60. Sorkin can do relationship stuff well, he just hasn’t managed it here. And the reason, I think, is that it’s gotten too close to what Sorkin really wants to say. Since there are so many points about the coverage of the news that Sorkin wants to tell us, the characters have taken on whatever point of view is needed for that episode. There’s very little consistency in their views.
Contrast that with West Wing, another very political show. There the Republicans stood in for the other point of view, which seemed to make it easier for the characters to stay consistent. In Newsroom, Will McAvoy is meant to be the opposing point of view, but he isn’t. He listens to reason, facts and opinion and then makes a rational decision. That just isn’t the Republican standpoint. It may be the conservative standpoint, but Will says he’s a Republican.
So that’s why I think Aaron Sorkin needs a show called The Soapbox. A show where he can air every grievance he has with the political system in the US. He needs to have a bad guy Republican and corporate interests corrupting the system. He needs to have a good guy liberal, fighting the system and trying to stay honest. And he needs to have the people involved already be married or determined to stay single. If he was able to focus on that, he would have had a great show.
Get Into The Action
For a limited time, I'm giving away the first two books in the Bytarend Fantasy series and the Hard Vacuum science fiction series for free.
Bytarend is fast, fun fantasy that'll have you on the edge of your seat. Hard Vacuum is hard-talking, violent science fiction and my tribute to 80s action movies.
Grab all four books for free: