Tuesday 25 June 2013

AARON SORKIN And THE NEWSROOM: Reflecting On Season One

I love this show. I've had no free time yet somehow managed to re-watch the entire season in the past three days. I got up today at 5.40am, I thought because of sleep issues but I think I just wanted to watch the final episode that badly. 

I'm passionate about films and TV, yet I dislike so much of it. Maybe dislike is the wrong word-- it's just that most of it doesn't resonate with me. Bit like how 'The Newsroom' got such a backlash; people saying Sorkin was repeating himself, or that it was liberal nonsense, or that he writes women badly. If you think that, fair enough, but why are you watching? 

If I watch a show and it sucks, I stop at most within a full episode although more often within a full three minutes. But 'The Newsroom' kills me, in all the right ways. Sure, the women are insane and fumble over their words, but so do the men! This is a show about lonely workaholics who don't know how to function outside of the newsroom. Sure, that's almost exactly how it was in 'The West Wing' and 'Studio 60', but that's a good thing. 

When you look at the career of Woody Allen, you can see a lot of wildly different movies -- but also you can see how they're almost all exactly the same. As human beings, we fixate on a very narrow spectrum of things, and we're normally stuck on them for most of our lives. Aaron Sorkin persistently writes about single-minded, sleepless overachievers, but that's what I love about him. 

'The West Wing' makes me care about politics. 'Studio 60' makes me want to be a better writer and 'The Newsroom' makes me want to speak truth to bullshit. And 'The Social Network' makes me want to focus on  my work and not stop until I'm at the top of my game. 

The criticism of the women in this show, I don't get it. People moan that Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) is too girly, but then you have Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) who is so career minded that relationships and love barely register in her brain. She's fascinating! I can't remember the last time I saw a character that captured how inept women can be at dealing with their human relationships. But also, it's not exclusively a gender thing, because I relate to Sloan MYSELF.

And yes, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) occasionally drops her phone or emails the whole office by mistake, but why do people fixate on that as an example of how Sorkin writes women unfairly? How about the fact that she almost single-handedly changes the way a whole TV network shapes the news? How about the fact that she has brought together an incredible team, full of journalistic genius and incredible loyalty? The women are amazing on this show. 

What I love most is how incredibly personal it is. These are characters desperate to do some good in the world; to be that rare thing: a news broadcast that actually means something. That puts truth as the number one priority. 

When the show first came on air, I got caught up in the hype. A little bit of my own hype but mostly the hype of the media frenzy that surrounded the show. I found myself talking about the women on the show, Sorkin's pretentiousness and all those other things that the entire world seemed to focus on. I'd allowed my views to be influenced by the crap that surrounded me all over the internet. 

But hey, that's exactly what this show is trying to talk about. 

Now, a year later, I have a much clearer head. I am absolutely in love with the show. I don't need to give you a technical breakdown, I don't need to explain point by point why it's brilliant -- that stuff doesn't matter. What matters is that I was engrossed, I was inspired; I laughed and when 'Baba O'Riley' did its thing in the final episode, I was beyond riveted. 

Stepping away from the internet, away from the opinions and the criticism, I was able to see a beautifully crafted, inspiring TV show. That's rare. I can't wait for Season Two. 

Care to share?

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