The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 4

“The fourth episode!” some Newsroom fans cried, as proof that the show is really going somewhere despite acknowledged flaws in the beginning.  

“The fourth episode” critics snorted, pointing out that if you thought the show was unbelievable now, wait ‘til you caught up.

And I have to shrug my shoulders and kind of shake my head at the fourth episode, because what can you say? It’s kind of like that one kid in school who was really deeply focused on archery, and wanted to land the archery championships, and had all the stats and info and odds about his level of winning versus not winning the archery championships.  And on the one hand you want to say to him “way to go”, but on the other hand “nobody else wants what you want.  I think you got it in the bag”.  

But what good would that do? He’s happy.   So you let him be happy.

This is how I feel about the Newsroom at this point.  The show is straight-up ridiculous, and I have no problem outlining the ways therein.  But there are parts where it’s really happy and proud of itself, and let’s go ahead and let it be so, right?

So.   Herein, the good:

-Despite what others have said  about the ridiculousness of people at a work-oriented New Year’s party I actually thought it made a lot of sense.  Who in the hell has time to make friends, let alone plans for socially fraught New Year’s Eve when they work every night until 9 PM minimum?  

-Will continues to be a real person.  One who cares (enough) about ratings and about news and about television.  This singular trait saves him from being the biggest douche on TV, so I have to count it as a plus.

-I wasn’t expected to take Neil’s Bigfoot stuff seriously.

-I like that Don, too, cares about the news.

-Assignments like “find all the stories we didn’t pay enough attention to last year” are exactly the types of things that happen in newsrooms, although they would be assigned to far less senior producers than Jim.

-The roommate’s identifying phone ring, while disgustingly irritating and on the nose, is probably more nostalgically accurate in 2010 than it would be now.

-Will’s cavalcade of women were at least marginally more suitable for him, in terms of having careers and being more evenly matched, than the cheerleader of last week.

There, that’s my list of what’s good.  I know, I’m a curmudgeon bitch who doesn’t see how elevated this television show is and the level of discourse going on.   That’s not true.   I do – I really do.  I just have to be of the opinion that for every point The Newsroom gains in  “a doctor proclaims her death, not a network”, they lose six for drinks tossed in a man’s face. For thinking guns pointed at them are sexy. For intelligent women only being able to discuss the RHoNJ.   And of course, for gossip being seen as an evil, pernicious thing, rather than a commentary on the highest in our society that’s been going on since time immemorial.  That’s not just irritating, that’s genuinely uneducated.  You think commoners in the Middle Ages weren’t whispering about what goes on behind closed doors?

I guess I’m at the point now where, in an episode where the Gabrielle Giffords story didn’t come out until the last 10 minutes, forcing us to endure 45 of Will trying to “date” but just being plumb shocked that all women except Mackenzie don’t have a brain in their heads and like to see silly fluff on TV instead of the news, I no longer understand.

Medical shows don’t do this.  Cop shows don’t do this.  They are workplace shows which combine the seriousness of their subject matter with inevitable romance and conflict. I get that part. But they don’t spend all their time showing off how stupid half the people in their midst are.  They don’t spend all their time saying they’re tying to make over the public’s opinions on smoking or obesity or gun control.   Because what would be the point?  

At this point it seems “the point” is that Will likes to hear his own voice.  And Sorkin does too, of course.  I read a deeply disturbing quote from him the other day (though in a question only tangentially related to the show) that made my heart sink:

“I gave up trying to understand the women in my life a long time ago, and now I just try to please them. Much better results.”

Assuming you and I are “in his life”, or his sphere, this is what he thinks we want:   drinks tossed in faces and screeching at men when they dare to go out with our rorommates.  

Maybe I’m the only one, curmudgeonly and uptight already.   I want not to be.  I want to look beyond the completely two-tiered nature of the show and enjoy the news – because God, do I enjoy the news.  I just get more and more of the feeling that I’m not “supposed” to.