January 18th 2017
Today I finished season one of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. And it’s very important that I prefaced the show’s title with “Aaron Sorkin’s” because the entire show is basically just a projection of his personality and political opinions. That’s not an uncommon thing.
It was ‘Peter Jackson’s King Kong’ (for licensing reasons) it was ‘James Cameron’s Avatar’, every Tyler Perry movie is ‘Tyler Perry’s…’
This was Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Not officially, not for licensing reasons, or marketing reasons, but to me it’s so quintessentially Sorkin that it has to be labelled as such. And it’s different, because unlike Jackson, Cameron and Perry, Sorkin isn’t the director, he’s the writer.
It’s not a new show, it had a three-season run that finished in 2014, I’ve just only got around to watching it. It’s critical reception is… mixed, with the main complaints being that it’s just a platform for Sorkin to preach politically upon – which is possibly true, but also fair enough. That’s part of writing. You’ve got something you want to say, so you say it through your medium, be that novel writing, screenwriting or episodic TV writing.
I ignore the criticisms of it being ‘too Sorkin’ mainly because I love Aaron Sorkin. I love everything he’s done, and he’s the main reason I watched the show. If it was Peter Jackson’s The Newsroom I wouldn’t have bothered.
What I love about Sorkin, and specifically this show, is his dialogue. It’s hilarious, and poignant, and intelligent, and brilliant all at the same time. Sure, characters make far too many monologues and soliloquies, but they reference the fact that they’ve done it after they’ve done it.
That meta self-awareness is a great part of the dialogue. It’s like breaking the fourth wall without looking into the camera. It’s a nod to me as an audience member that says ‘Yeah, I know what I just said was fanciful and ridiculous, but don’t take me too seriously’ and I love it.
I should’ve explained before but it was probably obvious from the title of the show. The Newsroom is about a TV news station that endeavours to tell the news differently from everyone else. They disregard ratings and instead focus on informing the public – because that’s what they see their jobs as broadcasters to be.
Instead of spreading gossip and opinion, they report facts, and information.
They’re the exact definition of what I wish the news media was, but the exact opposite of what it is.
It’s either brave or lazy, but the fictitious news channel reports on real life news stories. The first episode talks about the BP oil spill in 2010, subsequent episodes discuss Casey Anthony, Anthony Weiner, President Obama, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and James Murdoch’s News Of The World.
Perhaps it’s preachy, and easy to do after the fact, but we get to see how the news should be reported.
Amongst the monologues, and many, many repartees are moments of genuine purity.
I do not often get emotional at fiction, but I was on the edge of something during the scene on the airplane where Don Keefer got to tell the captain of a United Airlines flight that ‘our armed forces killed Osama Bin Laden for you tonight’
It’s a show that makes you think, and laugh, and very nearly cry (if you aren’t an emotionally stunted individual).
And, what I particularly liked about the first season is that it was a complete drama. There were very few loose ends at the end of the last episode, there were no cliffhangers, nothing to make me feel like I had to watch the first episode of the next season, I’ll watch it because I want to.
It was one of my favourite seasons of television ever, and I’d recommend it even if RottenTomatoes doesn’t.
Until tomorrow, good work, Sorkin.