Smell Aaron Sorkin’s Farts: ‘The Newsroom’ Reviewed
Allow me, if you will, to begin this review in the lamest way possible; with a disclaimer. I enjoy Aaron Sorkin’s work. I think that A Few Good Men is one of the 15 best movies of all time, I loooooved Sports Night, and I’m one of those rare people who’ll defend Studio 60. That said, it’s clear from watching Sorkin’s latest creation, The Newsroom, that he has been sniffing his own farts for way too long.
I first noted The Newsroom back in April when the first promo appeared, and to be honest the show didn’t look very promising from the beginning. Then the negative reviews started trickling in from various publications that I respect. Still, I though to myself, it couldn’t be that bad. After all, The Newsroom looked awful Sports Night-ish and had Jeff Daniels (who is awesome) and Sam Waterson’s crazy eyebrows, not to mention that guy from Slumdog Millionaire. Unfortunately, The Newsroom, is just indefensibly bad. From what I can tell from the first episode, it’s less a show than an amalgam of all the stupid cliches that have ever been uttered about politics run through the filter of Aaron Sorkin fast-talk to create a product that is simultaneously grating and frustrating, because there’s a great show lying underneath.
The Newsroom opens with our protagonist Will McAvoy (Daniels) sitting on a panel of journalists in a college auditorium right in between two screeching partisans. You see, these people with their unreasonable arguments are petty little creatures, unlike “the great man” McAvoy, who is eminently reasonable. Of course, no one sees what a genius McAvoy is because he’s carefully packaged himself to be the bland “Jay Leno” of news anchors (in the show’s own words). That is, until one silly blond little college student asks the dumbest question of all time, “Why is America the greatest country on Earth?” The other panelists come up with super lame reasons why they believe that America is great, but McAvoy is better than that and it’s time for him to drop some knowledge on these suckers. Deep within his genius brain, he has stored up a vast pool of knowledge about where America ranks in a ton of different categories, he’s like an America ranking Eric Karabell or Matthew Barry. Turns out, America by Mr. McAvoy’s formulation, is not so great. But, we can be numb one, according to him. Also, he’s hallucinating that his ex/ new producer is in the crowd or something.
Of course, this is all a load of BS. The America (and the American press corps) that McAvoy (and by extension the show) envisions, where everyone was totally manly and awesome never actually existed. Anyways, McAvoy’s truth bomb totally shakes things up because everyone thought he was totally lame and Leno-ish, but really he’s this awesome GENIUS and no one is ready for his truth missiles. Did we mention that he’s really smart, but also has real people problems because he is a real person. Fast talk, fast walk, joke about blogs, joke about twitter, fart, fart, wank motion.
Then McAvoy gets a new staff and they set out to change the face of cable news. If all of this sounds boring that’s because it is. In fact it’s a bunch of yelling and office politics mostly, which most people get enough of Monday – Friday. Add to thins the fact that the show is set in the near past and The Newsroom offers a strange, revisionist history of American media, re-framing the coverage of BP oil spill inaccurately.
There are of course bright moments to the show. The acting is excellent and there is a compelling human story at the heart of the shows plot. Unfortunately, it’s all so deeply buried in a layer of Aaron Sorkin’s farts that it’s hard to see. I guess what I’m trying to say is instead of watching The Newsroom I’ll stick to watching Sports Night on Netflix for the eighth time.