May 2, 2011
Do you remember this? I remember. I remember the weirdness of this. The announcement of the death of Bin Laden was so strange. It felt odd, to me, to be cheering about a military operation. Not in the “every life is a life” thing, but because of how incongruous it was anyway. It’s like cheerleaders at a dental surgery. Football boosters at a sit-in. It seemed a weird way to react. Later I heard Bin Laden described as “Voldemort” to a certain generation, and that made a little more sense in terms of the …party atmosphere of it all but…”knock ‘em dead, just like we did”? It will always leave a bad taste in my mouth. That’s my Canadian showing, I suppose.
It does become clearer, this episode, that this is a character show about some peope who happen to work in the news. They are often irritating, and they are self-involved. Which, it has to be said, probably makes them more human. It would be worse if they were automatons who only cared about their jobs, but they care very much about their love lives, their positions in hierarchies – they are people.
And they cared about their jobs very, very much today. We knew exactly what the news was and how it would be covered, so we got to watch them be …proud of themselves. Good at their jobs might be pushing it, since they were handed the story and didn’t exactly master the art of timing where getting it on the air was concerned but it is worth pointing out that Mackenzie managed to run her newsroom, look and sound like a boss, and manage to put an irritating striver back in her place. Pointing out that reporting news requires going to find some was particularly sweet.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that having Will effectively out of the action via being stoned mattered not at all, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. By having Will outside the action, everyone else got to do their jobs in exactly the same way as they would have, so it’s sort of a testament to “on-air people are sometimes irrelevant” and also an indication that Will does in fact trust his team (maybe more now than a year ago). Progress.
I was thoroughly exhausted, however, by the parts where these same passionate people were petulant dicks on airplanes. Why are people dicks on airplanes? The rules are frustrating and arcane, yes. The process of being treated like a child is annoying. But we’ve all flown. We know the drill. What do you get out of being a dick to someone who can’t help the situation you don’t like? You feel powerful? Because that was the message I got loud and clear here. Don felt like he could push around Flight Attendant “Crazy Lady”. But he couldn’t stand up to the pilot. Allegedly because he noticed the stripes on the pilot’s shoulder, and treated them with the respect they deserved. That he didn’t remember, or didn’t want to remember, that flight attendants, too, died in hijacked flights. I understood the frustration of being on the plane, and to a certain point the irritation with a rigid attendant was warranted. But any humanity they try to build for Don – which in this case was “concern” over a girlfriend we haven’t seen him interact with at all, let alone lovingly, in weeks – seems to ebb away by the end of the episode.
Lastly, this Jim and Lisa thing is ridiculous, and I shouldn’t have to devote any time to it. But the progression of this show’s timing that it’s been six months or so that these two have been dating out of convenience? Sure, relationships that go nowhere have been known to hang on for that long … but not usually when you love the person who’s living with the person who’s there. There have been a few references to the fact that the staff is young, and if they were going to go all the way and point out that people who spend their 20s in newsrooms and don’t ever go out of them meet people in the world who are emotionally infantile, I’d totally get down with that. They haven’t yet.
But even though this episode felt better for me than any before, Sorkin made a grand show, last week, of pointing out that nothing is wrong with his show and that you’ve all been watching it wrong. So whatever you’re experiencing, it’s exactly how he wanted you to.