Why The Newsroom Is the Most Insufferable Show on TV

And five changes we hope HBO made for the second season

This Sunday, The Newsroom—the critically lambasted show from The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin—returns for its sophomore season on HBO. Honestly, I never got past the fifth episode of the first season; each episode was so overwrought with unlikable characters and excruciatingly overwritten dialogue I couldn’t continue. But there’s hope for this season. In a recent Hollywood Reporter article, Sorkin admits to rewriting the beginning of the second season, thereby forcing reshoots. Let’s hope that he made the following changes:

The opening credits.
Get a new opener. People pointing, opening doors, talking on the phone and walking are not captivating shots. And how many times do we need to see the word “news” in one-and-a-half minutes? We get it. It’s a news show. If anything, this just feels like a derivative of The West Wing’s stately opening.

The ad.
Never make an ad like this again. It makes me want to punch it in the throat.


The characters.
The Sorkin character archetypes are found here: the passionate, brilliant men and the quirky, brilliant women. Everything is black or white and they are ruled by the adage “he who speaks loudest and longest is the most smartest.” But few, if any, of these characters are likable. The men are bloated, dismissive and predatory. The women are bleating, hysterical and shrewish. But poor Alison Pill—the tremendously talented young actress from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Milk—has it the worst. Her Maggie is an emotionally unstable mess who cries in almost every episode.

The news.
Enough with the real news: It is infuriating, not too mention pompous and preachy. Of course, with historical perspective of events occurring years ago, anyone could say how stories should have been covered.

Yet often these stories just don’t seem suitable as entertainment. Case in point: the fourth episode that involved the assassination attempt on Gabby Giffords. Well actually, it focused less on the happenings and more on whether her death should be announced on air (as other networks were doing). The audience knows that miraculously—thankfully—she lived. So whoop-de-flippin’-doo that a fictional news anchor on a fictional news program didn’t cave to the fictional network’s pressure to call it. (The insult to the injury? The asinine subplot where one character tries to prove Bigfoot’s existence.) The whole thing was neither appropriate nor interesting.

How I wish that instead of cherry-picking headlines or trying to insert this fictional program into actual reality, Sorkin would create stories that develop these characters and this fictional world. But as this upcoming season focusing on the election, this does not look likely. I’m sure he’s already working on the Boston bombings episode.

The storylines.
Did I mention the “Bigfoot is real” plotline?

 

 

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  • Turk502

    Overall, I agree with your assessment. However, I disagree with your opinion of the Giffords episode, which I thought was a real bright spot of the first season (which got better as it went on, by the way). I was a journalism major in college, and I thought that the episode was an excellent castigation of the way that today’s media operates. I was taught to make sure you get the story right, but today, it’s more important to get the story first, facts be damned. You can look no further than the Newtown shootings, when CNN reported that the gunman’s brother was the actual shooter, when that man was in an entirely different state at the time. You have a point about the Bigfoot subplot, though.

  • kerrryz

    Finally! A lucid review. “Overwrought” perfectly describes the dialogue. The first episode appeared to have been written by a community college student trying to earn an Associates degree in scriptwriting. How hokey was it that there was always someone in the newsroom whose college roommate’s dentist’s barber’s neighbor happened to have found secret documents in a taxi when he was taking a taxi to pick up his cousin at the airport?–just in time for the newscast expose. It reminded me of watching the cartoon Clutch Cargo when I was a kid. Clutch would be falling down a 200 foot mineshaft that was in flames or similar certain death. When I thought Clutch was a goner, there would be a commercial after which Clutch would be safe and sound and say “whew, that was close”.

  • RagingModerate2913

    This vid sums up the “great writing” on this TV show which could otherwise be called progressive porn.