The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 1 recap

So I started watching one of those Sorkinisms Supercuts a few days before this episode premiered. My God, it is hypnotic. But even though the man rips himself off wholesale, that’s not what bothers me. Lord knows people could line up all my crutches and critique them at length, and I’d deserve it. 

There was a sequence where Will McAvoy and Sam Seaborn are saying the same inspired speech about how we crawled out of the caves and began to evolve. And in Sam’s young, idealistic face, it seems like such an adorable, lovely speech. Will’s age and experience are what instantly turn it into a mansplaining lecture. It’s maybe not fair, but age turns idealism into hectoring. That’s why The Newsroom…?

And so, with that, we begin season 2. Welcome, Marcia Gay Harden! Looks like you will be doing a lot of sitting this season, if this investigation is going to take all season?

Opening with McAvoy being smug was, of course, not the way to say “hey everyone, we’re making a totally different show that absolutely takes your feelings on things into account!” but that’s because they aren’t really. Some things, yes. The opening credits are so much better – still extraneous in the way that all credit sequences are these days, but much less expounding on the wonders of television news in a way that Edward R. Murrow would have found tacky and over the top.

But it’s clear from the first frame that Will McAvoy is the same guy – and that’s fine, he’s supposed to be. He’s a smug bastard by nature. I don’t want him that different – and it is worth pointing out that some of the people on this show have “season one” traits I don’t want them to lose. I am a sucker – this week, every week – for Mackenzie’s control room gymnastics. I would almost watch a show about that every week. Just guys at Benihana doing V.O. on the fly.  

Most characters are the same this season, so far. They feel familiar, and the ones that don’t seem different in a way that’s positive. While I get annoyed that a character being “messed up” is indicated through a really bad wig, I’m excited that Maggie  is going to get some coverage that’s not about her love life or the way she screws up fact-checks.   

There’s a lot to talk about this week and we spend a lot of time on not-very-intriguing Occupy Wall Street meetings so I don’t want to spend a ton of time on this, but I want to say a thorough and somewhat sincere thank you and good night to Maggie & Don. Ill-matched, yes, but not even pretending there was some passion about it – I’m fine with all of that. I am absolutely NOT fine with the fact that someone somewhere found a video of Maggie being insane on the street and somehow that led her boyfriend to break up with her, because it’s preposterous and because it focuses on a nonexistent cousin …but I’m mainly fine with it because we want to hear new stories about these people, and I relish seeing some new connections between people. And because they didn’t cry and sob and rend their garments, which is refreshing. They just…parted.

I don’t however relish watching a show about dicks for dicks’ sake. I don’t understand, first and foremost, why Aaron Sorkin is so incredibly threatened by Sloan Sabbith – a character that he created – that he needs to undercut her at each and every turn. I truly don’t get it, and it seems too silly and random to have “wacky and doesn’t think things through” be the character trait of a woman we only see nine minutes a week.    

I don’t like how Charlie speaks to her. “Money skirt” made me insane, even though it was supposed to, even though they actually, allegedly, have a respectful relationship. I don’t buy it. I don’t like that Will picks apart her tiny mistakes, that they wouldn’t be utterly irrelevant like they would if Neil were speaking. I don’t care how well she does on air – even though I’m happy to have her there – when nobody gives her any respect for it. It’s kind of like the humiliate-the-intern gag. First of all it’s not funny, but second of all, it’s just one of those relentless coincidences, that Will is mean to interns and people who make mistakes but they just happen to be girls all the time? Maybe, right? Maybe it’s just a coincidence? And don’t tell me Jerry Dantana was treated the same way. It’s not even in the same stratosphere. We also had a side-note of Don mansplaining to executive producer Mackenzie how rundown meetings should run and, for that matter, how speaker phones work, but hey, it’s episode 1. There’s lots of room for equal opportunity screwups, right?

In any event. The central conflict this season focuses around MGH’s investigation, and how she’s going to protect the news team from themselves and what they’ve done. Or not. It also seems that the “give Will & Mackenzie enough rope to hang themselves” idea has come home to roost, which I’m strangely fine with. I am interested in the stories that happen when you have to decide the difference between the best way to do your job and the way that will not get you fired.   

It would just be more interesting if there weren’t three “love stories” going on. Four if we count whatever the hell Neil was doing this week while pretending to be worried about Occupy Wall Street.

So let’s go. Season 2. Make me crazy in new and amazing ways. (I don’t know if I mentioned last year that “Mackenzie” is a completely anachronistic name for a woman in her late 30s but it is. It matters, Sorkin.) I don’t know that we need this framework of the lawyer and I’m already a little exhausted with the episodes that begin and end with explanations of what happened and go back in time. Mostly, if this show is going to piss us all off, I’d like it to go all the way, not hold back.  
Oh. And “Would one of you f*ck Ms. Halliday please?” Yeah, it wasn’t funny. At all.  Pretending that a professional woman who respects herself would laugh at that in that context is trying to hard to get us to like her, and badly at that.