Apologies this is going to be a long one.
I saw the first episode of the newsroom travelling back from a holiday in San Francisco to London. I think that speech from the premiere might have resonated more with me for two reasons:
1) I had just witnessed first-hand the absolutely baffling and for a Belgian at least incomprehensibly biased nature of news reporting on Fox News et all.
2) I am unashamedly a news junky
That speech had me sitting up straight despite being on the sixth hour of a ten hour flight. I immediately wanted to see the other episodes. While, like most average viewers, I feel that there are plenty of problems to be ironed out for S2 (see below), I have to say that Im glad it got renewed.
The vitriol in some reviews surprised me. This is no Mad Men, Game of thrones or even West Wing, but its hardly the usual dreck on our television screens.
Now you either like or dislike Sorkins particular brand of wish-fulfilling environments or you dont. Personally I think its pretty clear from the premiere that the shows creators are well aware that they are operating in a sort of utopic newsroom rather than a realistic one. I dont think for one moment that it was intended to be. Just like Bartlets administration was not a realistic representation of a presidency, but rather an alternate, utopic escape from the real one at the time.
That isnt to say that there isnt anything to iron out. For one thing the show has misogynistic undertone that doesnt sit well with me.
Mack, particularly is a victim of that trait. Its not that she cheated, which was a nice reversal of tv tropes for once, but the fact that this experienced idealistic reporter and EP is so cut up about it that it seems to take a back seat to her striving for an informed newscast. That backstory between her and Will is an interesting backdrop, but it shouldnt take centre stage as much as it does.
More serious is the representation of Mack as borderline incompetent at times. Shes a klutz? Fine, as one myself, I can only confirm that getting gum stuck somewhere doesnt mean youre bad at your job. However suggesting that a women of her obvious astuteness wouldnt know Economics 101 is a step too far. Its a valid point that often journalists, politicians or more worryingly banc CEOs dont understand the intricacies of haute finance, but the way it was introduced on the show just made the female lead look like debutante who is more obsessed with her ex-fiancè than with current events.
Maggie seems to spring from the same source as Donna on the West Wing, but she lacks the latters moments of insightfulness and again she seems more obsessed with the whole triangle she has going on with Jim and Don than with actually getting her job done.
Im not advocating that the female characters should be professionally perfect robots who never make a mistake in any area of their lives. God knows that we all bumble about in affairs of the heart, but a little balance wouldnt go amiss.
Considering Sorkin created CJ , Donna and numerous other powerful female characters on the West Wing I can only assume that this misogyny is unintentional.
Especially considering the male lead is basically presented as a saint. Yes he has his dark edges, but rather than explore those theres seems to be real drive to immediately offer up an excuse (the abusive father cliché really?) or mediating circumstance.
Jeff Daniels is talented enough for the character to have a little more edge and still make us love him.
We know Sorkin can do this. Toby was basically far from a saint or even emotionally functioning man on the West Wing, but somehow I cared more about him than about any of the others. Richard Schiff is a wonderful actor, but Daniels is no slouch either so give Will a bit more edge.
Equally let the news crew fall flat on their faces a bit more. Theres a thin line between idealistic barn stormers and smug know it alls.
Still the premise is sound , the cast seems ok so Im looking forward to S2.
It would be good if Dev Patels character was brought to the fore a bit more. Modern media is undeniably an influence in todays news gathering, it would be good if the show reflected that and Patel is the easiest way to facilitate that.
Edited by Snooker83, Aug 7, 2012 @ 5:13 AM.