Why You Should Watch The Newsroom

I was recently stuck in a car with four friends, complaining about the heat and 4th of July traffic when we got on the topic of great TV shows. Game of Thrones, Homeland and Shameless were thrown out there, and then I brought up The Newsroom. Another person in the car agreed that he’s excited for season two’s premiere when the driver asked, “why should I watch it?” A simple question, with a less simple answer, but let me try to explain why this is one of the best shows on TV…

1.    Aaron Sorkin’s writing is genius. If you even stop paying attention for a millisecond you’ve missed approximately 50 important details. In true Sorkin-style, the dialogue is quick and smart so you’ll never get bored. More importantly, it’s a show that makes you think so it balances out how many brain cells I lose watching Real Housewives.

2.    Jeff Daniels was born to play Will McAvoy, anchor and managing editor of Atlantis Cable News’ (ACN) “News Night.” He’s self-assured, harsh and ungodly intelligent yet incredibly vulnerable and emotional. You never know what to expect from him.

3.    The season one premiere may have the best opening scene of all time. I realize this is a bold statement, but it’s true. A simple question (cough, assumption, cough) launches it all – “Why is America the greatest country in the world?” Will’s answer, “it’s not,” and his full rant is incredible. If you don’t believe me, watch it for yourself.

4.    You get a behind the scenes look at a newsroom – the stress, excitement and all the conflicting personalities that go along with it.

5.    The Newsroom’s storyline means more now than it would have 10 years ago. With social media, online publications and blogs, news unfolds differently than it used to, which is a challenge for traditional media. The show focuses on high-integrity stories, credible journalism and why it’s important to not jump the gun and risk misreporting the news. You’ll wish the show’s fictional network, ACN, was real.

6.    You get another look, and a fresh perspective, on major news events. The show premieres with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, includes Anthony Weiner’s unfortunate Twitter pic, the Casey Anthony trial, and ends with a NSA phone-hacking story (seriously, Sorkin, how do you do it?) in 2011. Season two will focus on the 2012 presidential election, Occupy Wall Street, and more.

7.    It’s emotional. There’s something everyone can relate to. Example: Episode 7, “5/1” the day we found out Osama bin Laden was killed. As a viewer, I was automatically brought back to that night, watching President Obama make the official announcement just days before my college graduation. It’s pretty spectacular when TV has the power to transport you back to a specific moment in time.

8.    Jim Harper is nerdy hot and the tension between Don Keefer and him for Maggie’s affection is ahhhh-mazing. The love triangles are half the show’s drama and some excellent entertainment. You’re never 100 percent sure who you should root for.

9.    The cast is brilliant – Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Jane Fonda, Chris Messina…Do I need to keep going?

10. Season two premieres this Sunday. Good news – if you haven’t watched season one, you still have a few days to catch up. Now get to it!

View Comments (12)
  • I love Aaron Sorkin, and so I was pretty much destined to love The Newsroom. The first season was pretty solid, and I’m looking forward to the second. But how should those of us who love Sorkin’s characteristic fast-paced, smart dialogue and the way a Sorkin show’s soundtrack swells to a crescendo at just the right moment, how should we answer those who critique Sorkin’s oeuvre as manifesting a pattern of sexism? There’s always an exception to the rule, a dynamic female powerhouse counterbalancing a predominantly male cast of heroes (hello, CJ Cregg!), but it does seem that Sorkin’s shows often push female characters into the background, or center their character development around their romantic relationships to the multifaceted, complicated male characters. Sorkin often explores “boys clubs” in his work – a sports television show in Sports Night, the high-stakes world of The West Wing, late-night comedy in Studio 60, etc. – but is that a satisfactory explanation? The Sorkin world is one in which morality reigns supreme – Will’s rant in The Newsroom is a perfect example! Sorkin is always out to create the ideal, to write worlds in which the underdog triumphs or the reluctant hero experiences an epiphany that pushes him out of complacency. I just wish these worlds featured female characters as complex, as rich, as their male counterparts.

    • I’m curious what Sorkin decides to do with Maggie, Mack and Sloan this season. Maybe we’re in for a pleasant surprise…

  • Anything Aaron Sorkin writes or produces I watch. I am a Sorkinite for life! The Newsroom his latest is just genius! Can not wait 5 days! :)

  • The first two episodes of the season felt incredibly disjointed, and I almost gave up on the show – until I read an article detailing how Aaron Sorkin lobbied to reshoot those two episodes, and rewrite the rest of the season, because he didn’t think the frame story format was totally working. The third episode was a pleasant surprise – it felt way more cohesive, and I actually laughed out loud at least half a dozen times in the library while I watched. Also, Sloan had some serious badass moments in that episode, so it seems like things are on the right track!

    • Kate I agree. I am a huge Newsroom nerd and have disagreed with most of the criticism lobbed at it in the past year. That said the first two episodes of this season were deadly dull. It felt as if all the spark and wit had been removed, and focusing on Genoa- a made-up news story just feels flat. The third held far more promise, but I think the jury is still out for the time being, especially until Genoa gets fleshed out more. Admittedly the one good thing that comes from it is we finally see an example of Mac’s expertise from being an embedded war journalist, so kudos to that.
      – Katie

      PS clearly Sloan is the supreme badass of all badasses on that show.

    • I feel bad for admitting this, but I fell asleep during the first two episodes of this season…maybe the show is suffering from the sophomore slump or maybe it’s just slow to warm up this season. We’ll see!

  • Some people seriously disliked The Newsroom season one, but I disagreed. I was a hooked fan. Season two on the other hand? I felt like Sorkin let us down. Don’t get me wrong. It had some solid, heartwrenching moments this season — Maggie’s trip to Africa, Dantana’s push to air a false story and the resulting fallout, etc. — but it also wrapped up too perfectly. It felt more like a series ending with a “happily ever after moment” than a season ending.

    I was surprised that Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for best actor, but he deserves it. Others were not only shocked, but outraged that he beat out some amazing actors in other, more ‘dramatic’ roles/series. But Daniels should be recognized for his portrayal of Will McAvoy. He’s one of the major reasons I won’t give up on the show.


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