The Newsroom is entertainment, and as entertainment it’s as good or better than anything you’re likely to experience these days anywhere on TV or at the movies. But it is also entertainment with a high quotient of information and education about how big-time TV news really works and why integrity-filled, high-quality news is important in a constitutional republic based on the principles of freedom and democracy such as ours.
Among the many things I am mildly obsessed with, HBO’s “The Newsroom” has been on the list since last year. Season two started last night, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait. For the record, Dan Rather agrees with me so that gives my opinions so extra legitimacy, right? Right.
The episode opens with a lawyer and you soon realize 2 things: 1. A bit of time has passed since the last season which means DRAMA. 2. Will McAvoy is still a sassy, wonderful man. You’re already pulled in and your heart beat starts to rise, although not exclusively because of the tension, but also because of the humor. Within the first ten minutes, Will is singing Rebecca Black’s Friday and you find out Maggie hacked off all her hair. When the switchboard goes out, I’m there. I want to be in that office. It feels just like the most magical stressful situations, like my work on the student paper times a billion. I know that I’m gone for the next hour. Not only that, but I finish each one with such great respect for the field of study I chose by chance.
So here are my reasons, 3 of them to be exact, why I love this show and think every human being should watch it.
1. OVERARCHING STORYLINES: From the flashback/flash-forward you always know that there are always at least two levels of conflict going on. This helps keep the tension up and is just more realistic. But at the end of the day/ episode, you’re left really, really anticipating the next one because even if one conflict is resolved, there are six more waiting. You never get to a point where all the story lines are going well. I guess this would frustrate some people but I love it. It is definitely part of the reasons I keep coming back.
2. CHARACTERS: All of the characters on this show are so well developed. There are many, but you get to see multiple sides of each of them. Every character has something redeeming and something flawed. The whole show teeters on that balance. Will they go towards redeeming or not? Will is a smug, occasionally womanizing big shot who occasionally can’t put his pants on and genuinely cares about the state of American knowledge. Mac is a strong independent woman who is fiercely good at her job, but is also awkward, neurotic and unable to let go of Will. Ugh. They are all just so interesting.
They also have outrageous wit. I cannot get over the banter. I wish I could live in a world scripted by Aaron Sorkin because I would just run around being clever and loving it. Some of my friends think this makes the show unrealistic and to them I say, HUSH. If I want to believe this level of conversation happens in real life, I will.
The only really frustrating thing in characterland is the drawn out relationships. Several couples were alluded to in the first episode, and let’s be real, it’s not going to happen until the last season. This is also a Sorkin thing, you’ll know that if you followed the C.J./ Danny in The West Wing (which is another show you should just watch for pretty much the same reasons).
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING: It’s important to understand the complex factors involved in tv journalism (or any journalism for that matter). This show doesn’t idealize, much, but rather shows the good and the bad, the dark and the hopeful. The media is a business but also one of our biggest information sources. That dichotomy is wildly misunderstood. This show gives journalism emotion and humanity, which is something journalism can’t do for itself. At the end of the day, the many people who bring you the news are just people. They struggle with reality as much as we, the audience members, do. They are real. People don’t get it, and that has bugged me for some time.
I leave you with this via tumblr: