The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 9

Dear Mackenzie,

How are ya?  Good? Good. Yeah, yeah, busy.  No, I know.   I know.   You?   Oh…really?  Well.   I kind of heard something about that.   Yeah… You were screaming in the middle of the Newsroom, right? Something about Jesus avenging you against having to report bad news? … Oh.   …Well, I heard you said Jesus.   …Okay, God, Jesus, same thing.   …Okay, fine, you said “miracle”.  I heard avenging, you said miracle.   No big deal.

But you know, I was calling to ask if you were okay.    Well, because it’s not totally normal to do that.   In the middle of your office.   Well, and then that girl went off about abortion on the show, and – what do you mean that was your idea?  …Oh.  ….Oh.   So anyway, you want to talk about how your job’s probably totally in jeopardy?  …You didn’t?  But you’re steadfastedly refusing to do what your bosses want, and while Will is a commodity, you’re kind of …well, I’m not trying to offend you!  …Okay.  Okay, just stop screaming. 


Fiction is hard.   We know this.   No matter what career or situation you’re writing about, there are a million little lies and omissions made, either out of innocence or creativity or just a need to skirt over the details a little bit.  Nitpicking forever would be easy to do,  and it’s what anyone who writes reviews can be accused of.

But when the errors are not about job specifics or geographic locations, it gets a bit harder to take.   Like when it’s about the basic functioning of adult humans  you really have to wonder where the writers get this stuff.

What struck me most was the willingness of people to do things for the benefits of others’ jobs.   There is a rite of passage in TV Land that involves begging/manipulating your friends to appear on your shows so you can prove to your bosses that you are skilled in the areas of guest-acquisition.   This is true.   But manipulating said friend to discuss the baby-killer they just happen to know on national cable news?   Which said friend does because she is nice?

Seriously, people, can we give it up for Lisa?  The most reasonable girl the world ever knew.   She is smart enough to appear self-possessed opposite Will McAvoy and to manipulate her TV spot into discussions of other missing children (and, of course, an obtuse argument in favour of …maybe Casey Anthony should have had an abortion?)  She is dating Jim, sort of as a favour to her friend and a favour to Jim, ignoring the persistent nag in the back of her mind that she is actually just a stand-in for the utterly incomprehensible Maggie.     

Guys, Lisa’s the best.  She sees everyone’s point of view even when they barely have one, she has smarts and integrity when it comes to other people’s jobs,  and she’s not too picky about the guy she’s dating really being interested in someone else.
But she isn’t the only one whose respect for others is paramount.   Let’s look at Sloan, agreeing to let Dev defame her on an intelligent website – it’s made very clear this is not Perez we’re talking about – so that he can maybe chase down a story about internet trolls … because that is mighty newsworthy, by the way.   It is so honorable of her.  It is so noble.   And all for…hopefully something, right? 

Lest you think I’m picking on young women here, let’s talk about the Flower Delivery Heard Round The World.   So Don is sent flowers, Jim signs for them, and, anxious that Don’s far-too-young what-do-they-have-in-common girlfriend might find out or discover that they are from another woman (which Jim knows because of…snooping, I suspect) he hides them in Will’s office, who is also complicit in this.    I mean, okay.   It doesn’t take much to hide flowers in one’s office.   But in a show that insists on showing the personal lives of the characters, the characters themselves are unfailingly selfless.

Well, except for Don cheating.   And Mackenzie cheating.   And Will being the Republican’s hand puppet.

All things that happened in the PAST, before the show was on the air.  

Everything interesting about these people happens offscreen!  They are never acting like real people, down to not dating anyone who’s not in their immediate office sphere (except for Dev, who never has relationship problems, apparently).   They are never secretly whispering about the boss’s idiocy (for example, in thinking the debate format would fly) and getting caught.   Never!   

Again, I understood this on The West Wing.   That was a show where your personal feelings didn’t matter – couldn’t matter – and the fact that they did, somehow, matter anyway meant that life got even more complicated.    On The Newsroom, though,  we spend hours specifically checking in on people’s therapists to find out about their relationship problems and watch them, in musical montages, contemplate their relationship failings.   We’re supposed to care but… the people don’t act like real people.    They’re never selfish, nor weak, nor of two minds.  They always have the right quote ready too.

Next week is the end of the first season’s run.  Will we know these people any better?  Miss them?   Love them?   I wish I could say so.