Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Newsroom by Aaron Sorkin

Monday night I eagerly anticipated the season premiere of The Newsroom, an HBO series by Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin has always delivered high quality material from the acclaimed West Wing to the smash hit movie about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network.

Like his previous works, The Newsroom was sharp, quick witted, and intelligent. Jeff Daniels stars as Will McAvoy, a jaded news anchor who is forced to work with an old flame, Mackenzie MacHale, played by Emily Mortimer. As the show opens, Daniels is burnt out and co-opted. He has given up trying to deliver hard, real stories that matter. But as he sits on a college panel, trying not to divulge his personal thoughts and opinions about the state of the country, he sees Mackenzie in the audience holding a sign about America intimating that it was once a great country; it's not now but it can be again. This provokes Will to announce exactly where America stands in terms of literacy, infant mortality, and other important indexes that constitute success. From there on, working with his old love, whom he bitterly resents because she obviously hurt him deeply, enables him to emerge as a noble newscaster and semi-decent guy.

The show would have been perfect – great acting, perfect combination of drama and comic elements, informative yet not preachy – but it used real material. The first episode was all about the BP oil spill. Sorry, but I followed that catastrophe day by day when it occurred in 2010. I don't want to go through a blow-by-blow description again. Will next week's episode be about the spill? Or will we move on to some other old news like the Haitian earthquake or the terrible plight of the trapped Chilean miners?

The Newsroom would have been better off creating its own fictional news stories. I don't see how we can move from real life events to fantasy at this point, but I will tune in one more time next week.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released "The Pink Triangle," a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: 

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I'm really getting into this show now, especially the episodes that are written by Sorkin alone. He really is a unique genius with a very quirky sense of humor. I love the way that he can mix drama and comedy and political and current events. Not easy to do.

    I'm into the characters and their futile love lives, and I'm finding the show a little less preachy than the first episode – it is about having the balls to do a real news show that actually cares more about the facts than the ratings. What a sad commentary it is that that is still a radical idea. And Sorkin is doing a bang-up job driving that point home.