Summer Must-Watch — The Newsroom

Posted Jul 12 2012, 11:48 am in , , , , ,

I’m going to start off by saying that I’ve never been much of a news watcher. In fact, I pretty much avoided watching the news altogether. The news is depressing. Plus, when you’re watching the local 10 o’clock news, so many times you wonder how something can qualify as news (Katie and Tom, anyone?)

Anyway, that all changed a few years ago when I started looking for a work-from-home job. I was hired by an education company as a writer, and the position evolved into an editorial one. My current job is to read the news, choose headlines and assign them to my writers. My writers then create on-line assignments for students based on the article I’ve sent. My job requires that I read the news everyday Sunday through Thursday. I have to look at how different sources handle the same material and choose the one I think will work best for students. 

When commercials for summer TV shows started airing, I saw something for The Newsroom, but I hadn’t given it much thought. As I said, I have to read the news most days, did I really want to watch how the news was broadcast? But then I started hearing the buzz about Newsroom and the fact that Aaron Sorkin, who did The West Wing, was behind it. I decided to set my DVR and check it out.

I’ve watched the first 3 episodes and let me tell you, I knew after the first one that this would be a must-see show. The premier opened with a cable news anchor lashing out and telling an audience why America isn’t the best country in the world (low test scores, starving kids, unemployment, lack of health care, etc). He didn’t say anything we don’t know, but it was some pretty refreshing honesty. It’s the trademark lack of real honesty that keeps me from all things politics. Anyway, Will, the anchor, takes a break and when he returns, he finds that most of his staff is leaving his show and his boss has hired Will’s ex-girlfriend to be the executive producer.

So, immediately we have some personal drama of the romance kind, and Mac (the ex) wants to push the show to be real and honest. The first episode they covered the BP oil spill (it takes place in spring 2010). This drew me in because I remember covering that for my day job and its interesting to see how they made it unfold. The second episode covered Arizona’s immigration law, which I’ve been covering for the day job from then straight through until now. 

Besides my own personal connection to the headlines they choose (and I’m sure there will be so much more), the show itself offers some great characters and they’re all smart. You heard that right, even the pretty young girl who was promoted from nobody to assistant producer simply because she didn’t quit is smart. They’re not perfect and they fuck up, but it is a cast of characters who are truly intelligent. What’s not to love there?

And finally, of course, since this is Aaron Sorkin, the dialogue is phenomenal. If you’re a fan of The West Wing, you’ll be a fan of The Newsroom as well.

When looking for clips for the show, I’ve come across a lot of criticism of it. Many have said that it’s a disappointment and Sorkin has flopped. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really expect it to be true-to-life. It is HBO after all. I think most days in the newsroom are probably pretty boring, so they’ve livened it up. Sure, part of why the characters seem so smart is that Sorkin knows how the stories will play out. He’s using news from 2 years ago. Part of my hesitation to watch in the first place was that I thought it would be boring. Who wants to watch a bunch of people staring at a computer screen and scribbling notes for the anchor? That would be about as exciting as watching  stock trades on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange.



Instead, we get this (not really safe for work):




I prefer the made up version. Have you tried The Newsroom? What do you think?

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