The Newsroom is a television series aired on HBO from 2012 to 2014. The series stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Allison Pill, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadowski, Dev Patel, and Sam Waterston. The series was created by Aaron Sorkin. The Newsroom follows Will McAvoy’s attempts to return to the cable news business after a two week leave following a very public meltdown of sorts at a university speaking engagement, which is where the show begins. It is extremely likely you have seen this before, because the supremely well-written rant became a mild viral sensation, and deservedly so.
What is cut out from the clips that pop up on Facebook is the fact that McAvoy begins ranting because he sees his old flame, Mackenzie “Mac” McHale, in the audience. McAvoy assumes he is hallucinating, but takes the advice Mac had. Will returns after two weeks to find most of his staff left. Don, his executive producer, decides to leave News Night for a new time slot. His new EP is none other than Mackenzie McHale. He is furious for reasons I will leave ambiguous for now. Charlie Skinner, played by Waterston (the Law and Order mainstay is uncharacteristically funny and endearing here), hired McHale over Will’s break because he knew their history would spark something inside of Will. Will made a reputation as an anchor that refuses to offend anyone. News Night had sagging ratings, so something needed to be done. Mac does exactly what she should have, and News Night returns triumphant. The series follows the day to day lives of those working in the Newsroom with Will.
Aaron Sorkin is probably the best screenwriter in the business, period. He is the creator of the award-winning play A Few Good Men and wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. Yes, he is the man you can thank for one of the most famous lines (and hands down the best rant) in film history.
Sorkin is also the writer of great films such as Moneyball, The Social Network, and Steve Jobs (Fassbender, not Kutcher). Sorkin’s crowning and arguably most well-known achievement, though, the NBC series The West Wing. The West Wing aired from 1999 from 2oo6. While The Newsroom follows those working in the newsroom, The West Wing follows a colorful cast of staffers working under President Jeb Bartlet in the West Wing of The White House. Notable cast members included Martin Sheen as Bartlet, Dule Hill (Gus from Psych), Rob Lowe, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, and Queen Allison Janey. (Obscure Key and Peele reference FTW) Over it’s run, The West Wing received 118 awards, including 26 Emmy Awards.It is still to this very day the best written TV show to air, in terms of dialogue.
I don’t think I can talk about The Newsroom without a quick tangent about The West Wing. Sorkin is known for poignant, cutting, intricate and well-crafted dialogue. Nowhere else is the dialogue more poignant in The West Wing than the season two finale. President Bartlet was forced to admit to the public that he has MS. The American people’s faith in him plummeted and he and his staff are facing prosecution concerning this information. His beloved secretary, Mrs. Landingham, died in a car accident after purchasing her first new car. What follows is a meltdown of Biblical proportions.
The show ended its run after seven seasons and did not falter once, in my opinion.
The Newsroom has more great Sorkin moments, and at times exceeds the peak of West Wing. This next clip is from the third episode of the series. As a somewhat disgruntled journalism major, this one really resonated with me.
The Newsroom came under a lot of fire over its three-year run for being “too preachy.” Sorkin actually apologized. He shouldn’t have. Yes, The Newsroom as an entity is overt about its views and political standings, ironically, moreso than The West Wing was. That isn’t a bad thing. Will McAvoy’s initial problem is that “he’s popular because he refuses to offend anyone.” By Sorkin, and by proxy, the character of Will, picking a side, doesn’t that make him a better anchor? I certainly believe so. I can only imagine the outcry led to the show’s downfall. In case nobody realizes this, entertainment is made by people. People have thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Some of these feelings… people may not agree with. Every piece of fiction, whether it be books, television, movies, whatever, they all have a message. The message may be political, or it may be personal. It may be overt and obvious, or it might be subtle. It’s there, though. It’s always there. You should not fault a piece of entertainment for expressing the opinions of the person who made it. In other words, if stuff in The Newsroom disagrees with you, GET OVER IT BECAUSE IT’S DARN GOOD TELEVISION! And guess what, when Will gets off the air, Sorkin gets off his soapbox. Deal with it and you get great TV scenes like this…
You can leave if you don’t like my opinion that you can’t blame someone for expressing their opinions via something they created…
Here’s something I never thought I would say. Jeff Daniels is brilliant. His acting is top notch and he really gets into character. He embodies the Sorkin dialogue so perfectly it’s awesome.
The Newsroom is not all full of serious stuff. One thing Sorkin does excellently in both this series and The West Wing is a good measure of truly hilarious humor.
The Newsroom is an excellent spirtual successor to The West Wing. It’s a show about a man with opinions that was unfairly criticized and brought down for having an opinion. I watched all three of the really short seasons in one week. I recommend this show for anyone looking for an engaging, intelligent, and thought-provoking piece of television.