The Newsroom is a bad show with good moments that thinks it’s great. It’s not because of the way creator Aaron Sorkin portrays the media, a boring subject, or his constant, obnoxious Republican bashing, which he can totally do because Will McAvoy’s a Republican! (He learned the “I can do this because I did that” argument from Ryan Murphy.) Well, let me rephrase that: it’s just because of those two things, which are the criticisms that receive the most attention. There’s plenty to get frustrated about while watching Newsroom, including these 15 (mostly non-political) moments, quotes, and scenes that made me want to smash my TV like Neal does Rush Limbaugh’s face on his computer. And hey, have you guys heard about this Internet? SCARY stuff.
#15. Maggie’s roommate Lisa begins dating Jim and they make plans to have dinner together on Valentine’s Day. Jim, a human with a penis, forgets all about the date, and leaves Lisa, a human with a vagina, all by her lonesome. Rather than acting like a normal person, she instead sets up shop in the middle of the newsroom, despite the fact that she doesn’t work there, and begins screaming, “JIM HARPER JIM HARPER CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE ACK ACK ACK.” Women be crazy, says every scene of Newsroom.
#14. The perfect metaphor for The Newsroom: there’s clapping from the staff after EVERY Will McAvoy news report. Such a good job we’re doing in this totally contrived situation, written months, if not years, after we’ve had enough to correctly respond to the event in question. Gary Cooper is not impressed.
#13. DOUBLE ANNOYING TROPE.
The working during a party.
The throwing of the drink. (Who knew Sorkin was such a fan of Smash?)
There are dozens of annoying tropes on The Newsroom, but these happen within minutes of one another, so they’re especially noteworthy. Has someone throwing their drink in another person’s face ever been funny? Until the liquid is made of orange juice, lighter fluid, and afterbirth, no.
#12. Aaron Sorkin turned into Peter King so gradually, I didn’t even notice. During episode five, “Amen,” Will extolls the virtues of Rudy, the feel-good movie about a kid who NEVER should have been able to step foot on a football field, especially as a defensive end, due to his undersized frame, yet still does and even records a holding-onto-the-QB-before-a-bigger-guy-takes-him-down “sack.” But middle-aged white guys love that Scrappy McHustle Rudy because that boy had grit. Will, too, has grit, and all he wants is for his employees, who make less money than him despite doing more work, to clap for him and cheer for him and call him “Coach.”
The middle-aged white guy wet dream also extends to this.
#11. OK, I know I said I’d keep politics out of this post, but I just can’t here. Due to Maggie previously having a relationship with a key source (of course), the News Night staff needs to find a group of guests to talk about the Arizona Immigration Law. They scuff their shoes and pick a gun fanatic who’s named his rifle “Jenny.” For a show that yearns to be “fair and balanced,” but without the quotes, The Newsroom has a tendency to show one side of the story. Arizona SB 1070 is obviously total horse crap and anyone who believes in it is human garbage, but why, oh why, did they have to bring guns into the situation? The point could have been made without “Jenny.” I’m not a gun guy, but there are sane, reasonable people who believe in the right to bear arms, but The Newsroom repeatedly paints Second Amendment supporters to be total nut bags.
Also, in another episode Will unloads a gun and holds it sideways because he’s from the streets.
#10. Episode three, “The 112th Congress,” begins with Will apologizing to News Night viewers that he and his staff haven’t done a good enough job covering the news, but they pinky swear they’ll do better from now on by holding politicians accountable for their words. Because that is a thing that happens on-air all the time. One of the show’s biggest flaws is that rather than show the audience that, yes, they’re trying to do something honorable in an dishonorable field, Sorkin instead explicitly and loudly screams at us, “OUR BAD, YOU GUYS. WE’RE THE GOOD ONES. LOL.”
#9. Speaking of “LOL”…no, Panic Attack Maggie, “LOL” does not stand for “lots of love,” which is what you wrote in a “sorry for your loss” card. It stands for “laugh out loud,” which is something that literally EVERY 20-something living in New York City knows. Maggie also confuses Georgia the country with Georgia the state. She is a mess of a human being, but hey, at least she wasn’t shrieking.
#8. MacKenzie means to send an email to just Will about how Sloan thinks he cheated on her, not vice versa, but she ends up sending said email to the entire staff and 47 out-of-office reporters. Because it’s 2010 and she’s a news producer and doesn’t know how to send an email, apparently. And that’s before another guy JUST SO HAPPENS to forward the message to corporate. By accident.
She then stomps on Gary Cooper’s phone with her high heels.
#7. Despite knowing jack poop about the economy, MacKenzie agrees to join a panel called, “Is TV News Equipped to Cover the Economy?” Clearly, no. To prepare, she asks Sloan for help because again, she knows jack poop about the economy. How jack poop? She doesn’t know the difference between an investment and commercial bank. Even I know the difference between an investment and commercial bank, and I’m not a respected producer of a respected fictional news program. Yet.
#6. Sorkin, on the Internet: “The result will be our website will ghettoize every other website. The result will be civility in the public square and a triumph of populism. I’m going to single-handedly fix the Internet.”
*middle finger GIF*
#5. Maggie is supposed to be our Pam Beesly, the strong, yet untested female character who hasn’t had the chance to show her full potential yet. Her first two scenes in the pilot involve her:
…tripping and nearly falling before her boss, and…
…not being able to get through a conversation with her parents about her boyfriend, Don, without crying.
#4. JESUS CHRIST THAT THEME SONG.
#3. Forgive the all caps again, but: WE GET IT, IT’S FUNNY FOR A MAN WHO WORKS IN LEGITIMATE TV NEWS TO BE OBSESSED WITH FINDING THE MYTHICAL (OR IS HE???) BIGFOOT HAHAHHAHA. On the plus side, The Newsroom is still a billion times better than Dev Patel’s other big non-Slumdog role, Zuko in The Last Airbender. Though every time he talks about this fascinating new group of people known as “trolls,” a topic that all the other idiots who work for News Night know literally nothing about, the gap gets that much smaller.
#2. News Night is forced to cover Casey Anthony’s baby killing and Anthony Weiner’s dick pics because half of their audience from a week before has fled to rival networks. MacKenzie is justifiably disappointed in having to devote so much time to such trivial stories, but she’d be out of a job if she doesn’t. Right before the cameras turn on for an interview between Will and a woman who tweeted with Weiner, MacKenzie prays for a miracle. “God, please give me a sign that I’m not doing a big thing badly,” she demands…and then there’s a blackout in the f*cking building. First of all, not only is that a mixed message, especially on a show that spends so much time making fun of those who think God answers their selfish prayers (like Michelle Bachmann), but it’s also an AWFUL way to get out of a dramatic situation. It’s literally flipping a switch, and pretending that everything before that moment didn’t happen. Then the lights come back on during MacKenzie’s crazy banshee speech about miracles or something, and then everyone cuts their throats because REAL NEWS. The end.
#1. Everything about this scene. Coldplay. Maggie crying. Sorkin making News Night seem like heroes because they had the DECENCY to not pronounce Gabrielle Giffords dead. Neal raving about Bigfoot. Charlie (who is otherwise awesome) gazing slowly across the newsroom. The evil ratings guy bursting into the control room. The slow motion. Don’t bring my dear Alyson Hannigan into this destruction zone. “Fix You” is a song for teenage girls to lose their virginity to; it shouldn’t be played during an Important Scene on an HBO show. The two situations have one thing in common, though: someone ends up crying out in pain.