The Problem With The Newsroom

…Isn’t so much that Aaron Sorkin is telling journalists how to cover the news.

 

It’s that his characters are sanctimonious, pompous blowhards, often incapable of being professional, or at least acting like adults.

Instead of letting the actual news of the day and the struggles in covering that lead the plots for The Newsroom, the show becomes about the push-pull of romantic “confusion,” spiteful actions and immaturity.

Sorkin’s choice to have the show take place in the recent past is actually a smart decision when taken from the perspective that it frees the staff up from making fake news. Most people here (and The Wire did so) would make the comparison to The West Wing, which like many shows, has to exist in the fictional real world, blending parts to make it work. Of course, any work of fiction has to do that to a degree. It’s fun to actually watch the parts of The Newsroom where you know what’s coming next – Osama bin Laden’s death, Occupy Wall Street, the events of the 2012 Presidential Election. Reliving these items, seeing what it would take to cover them, maybe learning more about the actual story can be both entertaining and educational, something, if done well, could be used in a classroom setting.

But “done well,” of course, is what it all hinges on. The Newsroom’s weakness by far is the characters’ interpersonal relationships. Unlike previous Sorkin shows, a believable and compelling romance is not part of The Newsroom, and the attempts to make at least one stick aren’t working. It brought down the whole show, enough that it was ruining the reason to watch in the first place. I hope Sorkin realizes this when he talks about redoing the series from the beginning, and works to correct his mistakes. His first step: make the characters grow up.

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