Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Newsroom: Women Who Seek to be Equal With Men Lack Ambition

I have not been bashful about my love for The Newsroom. For that matter, I haven't been bashful about my love for all things Sorkin. If there's anyone out there still hankering for a debate on Studio 60 (five years later), I'd be happy to get behind the Studio-60-was-awesome podium and offer a smackdown. One would think that the Studio 60 bashing would have died down by now - but one would be mistaken. Whenever Aaron Sorkin has a new project, the swarms of haters descend. And what kills me is that NBC's decision to cancel the show gives those haters a trump card. I mean, they are right. It did fail. But come on. It's NBC - a network with a recent past full of abysmal decision making. Can we really hold up any NBC decision and say, "Yep, them boys at the peacock sure know what's what." Luckily, Law and Order SVU is still on, so we can all relax.

John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper on The Newsroom Aaron Sorkin The Newsroom HBO The 112th Congress Jim and Maggie Alison Pill 
I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound bitter. But good television makes me happy. It inspires me. It makes me feel like I've chosen a profession of which I can be proud rather than one full of sleaze. And no one makes me feel that inspiration more than Aaron Sorkin. He understands the importance of mattering. Entertain, yes. But say something too. Otherwise television strays too close to dismissible brain-rot; an accusation against which tv lovers have been fighting for a long time.  People will sit at home and watch Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of Appalachia and then go over to TWOP and call Aaron Sorkin a sexist. It makes we want to jab my eyes out.

John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper on The Newsroom Aaron Sorkin The Newsroom HBO The 112th Congress Jim and Maggie Alison Pill 
Sorry... I got back to bitter pretty quickly there, huh? It's just that I want so badly to believe that people can (and will) be discerning with their taste, but evidence to the contrary is hurled in my face on a regular basis. There is nothing sexist about this show. All of his characters have moments of clumsiness.  All of them freak out occasionally. All of them make stupid mistakes and have flaws. Yay humanity! And when you examine his past work, the argument just gets crazier and crazier. He sees humanity a certain way. And personally, I'm interested in writers with specific views on humanity. Sure, there's a stylization that contributes to the overall hyperactivity of any Sorkin scene. If someone doesn't dig that zippyness, this might not be their show. I'm not saying The Newsroom is perfect. It's not. Nothing is. But it's certainly something with which we can engage. And each and every episode makes me laugh, makes me think, and makes me want to write HBO a thank you note for giving stuff like this time on the air. 

John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper on The Newsroom Aaron Sorkin The Newsroom HBO The 112th Congress Jim and Maggie Alison Pill 
Okay. Enough preachy preachy. Jim and Maggie! Like OMG, totes adorbs, amiright? I went in to this with a very big John Gallagher Jr. bias so I was always going to love him. But I love that in last week's episode, his smugness was pointed out. Because - yes - he has been smug all along. And I was sort of overlooking that because he's John Gallagher Jr. and he literally tripped on to the show in a heap of cute huggable loveliness. And I like the smugness when it's directed at Don. Don deserves it because Don is largely an ass. But I did feel the condescension in his major moment with Maggie. And I appreciate it. Because she felt it too - but it's hard to snap at the only person who comes to check on you when you're having a panic attack. Especially considering your boyfriend is right inside. And I have faith that one day, Maggie will need to step up for Jim. And it'll be all the more poignant because of the many occasions on which he was the rock.

John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper on The Newsroom Aaron Sorkin Dev Patel Neal Sampat HBO The 112th Congress
The Newsroom has already been granted a second season. I'm really excited about that. There's a lot of flux in these episodes: news that is both real and fake (did the fakeness of the congressman who lost his seat to a Tea Party candidate strike anyone else as odd?), the structure of the show is different every week, some of the set-ups are painfully obvious, and I found the comparison between Rick Clarke apologizing for 9/11 and Jeff Daniels apologizing for being a media whore to be somewhat... off? But something as lofty as this is bound to have kinks. And I always, always, prefer ambition over trash. I think it's likely to settle down for season two and THAT will be awesome. Also - I'm hoping Neal and Jim might be the Sorkin bromance I crave. I've enjoyed them thus far.

Deep breath. Sorry for the ire - but hey! what's a blog without the occasional rant?

1 comment:

  1. The Newsroom was my favorite show last season, however, that was before I started watching Homeland, which has now taken the top honor. I also really enjoyed Studio 60. Sorkin's dialogue style is addictive to me and I love shows about people doing good!