The Newsroom

I've been a fan of Aaron Sorkin's work since Sports Night. That's 1998 for those of you keeping track. It started with Sport Night, became forever solidified with The West Wing, and continued through Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (a show widely regarded as lackluster, but at least somewhat better than that). And let us not forget A Few Good Men, The American President, and other movies he wrote the screenplays for like Charlie Wilson's War, Moneyball, and The Social Network (for which he won the Academy Award). So, when I heard of his new show, The Newswoom, I was ready for Sorkin to be back on TV. But this isn't TV. Its HBO.

I watched the series premiere Sunday night despite being exhausted from Saturday night, and when you've watched enough Sorkin you start to notice patterns. The Newsroom, like other Sorkin shows, gets things rolling early with a character ranting something in public that he shouldn't which puts his job in jeopardy or gets him fired (i.e. Dan Rydell in Sports Night, Josh Lyman in The West Wing, Wes Mendell in Studio 60); former flames being brought together to work with each other (Josh & Mandy in The West Wing, Matt & Harriet in Studio 60); the workplace romance (Natalie & Jeremy in Sports Night, Sam & Mallory in The West Wing, and Danny & Jordan in Studio 60). Some of these ideas have a tendency to recur, but they always go in different directions.

Like other Aaron Sorkin shows, The Newsroom idealizes and romanticizes the new business. So much so that after watching it I thought, "Damn, why aren't I doing that with my life? It looks awesome!" Idealizing and romanticizing is what Sorkin does best. But the thing that I believe makes this show unique is that the series begins in 2010 and is going to cover real news stories that have occurred between then and now. I read an article a few days ago that scoffed at this, pointing out that it's unbelievable to portray the characters in this newsroom as the only ones in the business who get things right, foresee unforeseeable consequences, and are righteous. I say get over yourself, this is fiction. This is news idealized and romanticized. If you want reality, watch a damn documentary.

As I write this, I'm scanning through other reviews online and they're mixed. Words like "self-righteous," "passionate," and "grandiloquent." Are they right? I don't know. According to them the upcoming episodes of the show are just terrible and full of banality, and that the show does a disservice to actual reporters who worked on these stories in real life. Unfortunately, I can't speak to that, but I for sure enjoyed the first one. We'll see how next week turns out.

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