The Drawbacks of “The Newsroom” (with spoilers)

For a second, I’m going to set aside the easiest argument, that The Newsroom is Monday morning quarterbacking–super cheesy Monday morning quarterbacking–from a known purveyor of fine American cheese. That doesn’t really bother me because I am a product of that culture, and I am happy to pardon a guy who tries to point out the good in the world. Sure.

And I’m sorry, but I actually went to walk my dog after writing the first half sentence above, so I can’t remember what was bugging me because I continued watching the season 2 finale and had additional opinions. As such, I just want to touch on one thing right quick before I go ptfo.

So at the end of episode 9, when Charlie (Will’s boss) comes in and is suddenly all poignantly and defiantly wanting to rescind his resignation and to earn back the trust of the public or whatever. And then their full discussion about their lessons learned and hopes for the future and whatnot. Whenever I watch anything Aaron Sorkin has written, I sort of get this feeling that like baby boomers have it all figured out and life isn’t really that complicated–sure, it’s “complicated,” but the complicated parts are always very obviously complicated; there’s no subtlety or unpleasant paradox, unless it’s a sort of cliffhanger prior to some other payout. And before Will even rushed to go win back Mackenzie, I started thinking that what strikes me about this sort of deus ex machina in episode 9 is that it feels like Baby Boomer-friendly wisdom and rationales being applied to the modern age, and it just doesn’t seem appropriate.

As I try to mount a defense of this assertion, I can’t help but notice the entire show is Pollyannaish: a long-ago broken-up couple reunited professionally, a media conglomerate owned by a liberal who plays ball with republicans but has principles deep down inside, a cable network trying to find its way in the digital age. It’s OH! I just remembered what really chaps my ass about it!!!!

OK, here’s the real problem with The Newsroom. There was some line tonight, and I wondered if the writer thought of it himself or had taken it from someone else and was just reusing it on a larger stage. And that’s when I realized, The Newsroom actually sucks, but it’s nicely packaged and polished so we watch it because it’s there and it’s “smart,” but really because it’s accessible. Accessibility is a scene-killer, I tell you what. The Newsroom is just pablum. If talking about something provides a similar neurological effect as actually doing it, The Newsroom is corrosive to democratic society because its revisionism will give people a sense of vindication without cause. Or, to make that complaint in a different way, without the psychobabble: because I watched The Newsroom, I didn’t spend an hour (19 hours for 2 seasons) finding independent media, which means I know about that many less outlets for independent media, which means I’m more likely to watch the next big show that caters to my interests. I don’t have a problem watching mainstream media when the show / movie/ album is really fantastic, but The Newsroom isn’t fantastic; it’s propaganda, and it benefits The Borg.

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