In terms of television, this show reminds me very much of Man of Steel. Not in regards to premise, nor direction, nor acting, but in terms of criticism. Anybody I’ve heard online either loves this show or hates this show or loves to hate it, or hates that they love it. It’s gotten so much criticism and I can understand why, but in terms of a television program, it really is one of the most fascinating shows we’ve had in recent history.
The Newsroom is about the team behind a popular cable news show, and all of the drama that goes on to make their show possible. And it’s brought to us by the mastermind behind The Social Network Aaron Sorkin. I was going to publish my Social Network review before this, but what you need to know is that I think its script was a masterpiece. It’s one of my favorite movies all of time, and it’s in my Top 5 scripts of all time. That being said, what could possibly go wrong here?
I’ll start out with the positives, though this review is going to be very contradictory. First praise goes out to the writing, and that is how realistic and quick it was. If you guys have seen The Social Network you know the really quick-paced, smart and intriguing dialogue I’m talking about. The main problem, though, is also with the writing. I feel like after The Social Network, someone told Aaron Sorkin, “the audiences really liked how quick and smart that dialogue was!” It’s one of those ‘don’t ruin a good thing with too much of it’ moments. And in The Newsroom, it’s quick, smart and intriguing all the time. That’s one of the few flaws I have with the show. It seems too Aaron Sorkin-esque. This is going to sound really confusing, but the show is trying to be so realistic and so fast paced all the time, you’re taken out of it a bit. Now you know what I mean when I say the review will contradict itself a bit?
But not contradicting himself is Mr. Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Drama for this season of The Newsroom and he absolutely deserved it. He’s a jerk, but still likable, and really arrogant, yet still hilarious. I’ve heard people online say, “Aaron Sorkin doesn’t know how to write anti-heroes!” My argument is this: Will McAvoy in The Newsroom is no more of an antihero than Jeff Winger is in Community. An antihero is someone who has evil intentions, but is still the main character (Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Norma/Norman Bates), but Will McAvoy is just a jerk-ish guy who has good intentions. I love it when shows introduce characters like that because people like this are more realistic. And the next main character in the show is Emily Mortimer as Mackenzie McHale, the executive producer of the news show. Her chemistry with Will McAvoy makes the show intriguing and it really shows humankind at its worst. It shows how decisions affect other people, and the results of those decisions. If that sounded extremely vague, it was meant to and you’ll know what I mean when you watch the show. My favorite character on the show is Jim Harper played by John Gallagher Jr. He reminds me a lot of myself, but also has a lot of traits from Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. He’s a nice and likable guy, without being walked over, who’s also really smart and less of a jerk than Mark Zuckerberg was. And he has good chemistry with Maggie, played by Alison Pill. Maggie reminds me of the best cross possible between Beth from The Walking Dead and Annie from Community. She’s really nice and down-to-earth, but also conflicted. She’s a nice character to see on-screen and plays really well with Jim. Again, some people have said that Aaron Sorkin can’t write romance, and I agree this isn’t Silver Linings Playbook by any means, it isn’t even as good a romance as Crazy, Stupid Love but for a TV show that isn’t a rom-com, it’s functional. But going back to the characters, Olivia Munn plays Sloan Sabbath, and she ain’t bad lookin’… I like that the make reference to that too in the show, Sloan is introduced in the second episode as the smartest out of all of them, and there are jokes that she’s also the most attractive. The single issue I have with her character is that she doesn’t feel important until a few episodes after she’s introduced. That’s also the problem I have with Dev Patel’s character, Neil, and Maggie’s other love interest Don. The latter two felt like recurring roles, not main characters, and none of them seem important until it’s convenient. Including Sam Waterston as the network’s president. He was pretty much the same role that Fred Willard played in Anchorman, but he’s not messing around as much. Despite those few issues I mentioned though, all of these characters feel realistic and really drive the show.
Some of the major complaints I’ve heard about the show are that it has really blatant political messages and that it’s biased to only one political party. This is my take on that: if you only get your news from The Newsroom, first you have big problems, and second watch it for what it is: a show. Is that like saying Breaking Bad is biased for only showing the drug dealer’s side of it? This is the show that writer Aaron Sorkin wanted to create, and this is his vision of it, despite all political preferences.
But speaking of politics, I was thinking of the show the other day and realized that this is a political show, not because of the political news or premise, but because of the plot. The Newsroom correctly displays the politics of a CNN-like news-station and how everything works there. That’s why I would consider it a political drama.
I really didn’t want to review this show by season. Whenever I review a show by season (The Following, Bates Motel), it’s because the seasons are so radically different, I need to talk about each one separately. I don’t think Season Two of The Newsroom will be too different, but I’ve heard it takes everything great about Season One and amplifies it. And Season Three (the final one…) is coming out this fall. So I may come back in a couple weeks and say Season Two is absolutely flawless, which is why I didn’t want it to be combined with the fascinating, albeit a little flawed, Season One. As for Season One?
The opening sequence is one of the coolest opening sequences to a show I’ve seen too. I’d argue it’s Dexter and The Newsroom as the two coolest I’ve seen.
So guys, those are my thoughts on HBO’s The Newsroom. The show (at least this season) is really tame for HBO too. Sure they use the f-word a few times every episodes, but there’s no nudity and almost no drug use. So I recommend you guys check out The Newsroom before it wraps up this fall. And what is your favorite news network right now? Let me know down below! And as always, thanks for reading guys.