The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 1 recap
Are you sick of reading about The Newsroom? Or did you watch, and now you're invigorated and all the reviews don't matter anymore?
I read them all, of course, and I thought I'd be enraged. And I was - of course I was. It's only stupid blonde girls who make mistakes like asking questions and getting called “sorority girl” for their trouble. It's only stupid blonde girls who forget notepads when they're running into the control room. Now of course that's not the case, and I guarantee any associate producer on their first day would, in fact, forget. So why does it have to be a young blonde? Would we not sympathize if it were a young white dude, or would that cut too close to the bone of the archetype who is supposed to know everything?
This is the thing with the Sorkin: he's so predictable. His good, upright earnest guy (who, sorry, but isn't his name basically Jim Halpert? Trying a little too hard for likeability here?) wears a tie and a coat. The lazy-ass making terrible news and dicking around his four-month girlfriend has an unbuttoned collar and maybe a waxed chest. His asshole hero can redeem himself by thanking the crew in the wrong control room and throws money around so you know that's not what motivates him - not underneath. The woman of his desire is SO PERFECT she wants nobility in her news and motivates her love/talent/albatross of an anchor for no other reason than the purity of the form and because she believes in him. It's so altruistic. It's completely untrue.
There's a saying in TV that “we're not saving lives; it's television”. The reason it's a saying is because people forget it constantly. Constantly. People DO bust their asses every day - long hours for far less noble causes than informing the world about the BP oil spill. But there's also a really healthy amount of self-deprecation, because the show goes on on days when there really isn't any news, when you cover the birth of the new llama at the zoo because something's got to go in Block Six. A producer I worked with years ago called it “feeding the goats”. It's just a job that's got to be done every day, whether it matters that day or not.
So, does the show take itself too seriously? Do the people in the fictional newsroom? Yes and No.
I hated Studio 60. I HATED it. There was so much of this - so much self-importance and nobility and can we say what we want to to the world through our humble show - but I couldn't stop watching. Not until the very end. Because the people are trying not to be imperfect, and that's completely futile and thereby interesting. When they're perfect - when it all works like it did last night - that's less interesting than when they fail. And I love The West Wing; I'm in the middle of season 5, and the cracks are well beginning to show, but I love when they fail on that show because there's so much riding on them not failing, but it's an eventuality. They will. Failing is human and far more common than succeeding, even if Sorkin would like the opposite to be true.
I don't know yet if Newsroom will be a Hate Watch or not. I don't know how long it will last. I screamed at the TV a lot, not least because nothing really happened for the first half-hour, and I hated that an excellent seasoned producer is also a fantastic BFF to the first girl she meets - but I was also totally invigorated. Because that energy on a live show is so real, no matter what the show is, and it's like a drug and you want more and that's why you show up and try even on llama days. I'm completely frustrated already by the women we've seen. I'm told it gets better and worse. And there isn't much to say about Sorkin and his antiquated lines about Twitter and "Internet Girl" that hasn't already been said, and it's maddening, but the man still puts stuff on the air that is sometimes riveting. Or he did.
All I'll say is this. Lainey and I were shopping this weekend, and we went into a high-end store for jokes, really, and she snorted at a design by a lauded man who's supposed to be a genius. And I wondered if we expect talented people to be talented forever. Maybe his best designs are behind him, like Madonna's best music, best shows. Maybe Sorkin's moment of clarity and brilliance is gone - from television, anyway - and this will be another giant sigh. Or it won't.
I will watch.