The Newsroom Episode 4: I Will Try and Fix You, The Newsroom

Aaron Channon has a pretty good review over at Paste Magazine, including a great description of the ‘love rhombus’ and Maggie’s role in it. I’ll let you have the pleasure of reading that, and I’m going to touch on some things he didn’t.

must avoid talking about subte - WHY IS SHE ON THE FLOOR!?!?!

1. Handgun Rights.

Of course it’s convenient and smug to have a storyline about gun control in the same episode as the horrible attack on Congresswoman Giffords. But, willing suspension of disbelief and all that. As Episode 3’s editing hackjob showed, The Newsroom doesn’t expect viewers to put two things together unless they’re presented side-by-side.

Most infuriatingly, to make a ‘point,’ the show has two people, one with a concealed carry permit, one who is supposedly knowledgable about firearms, POINT A REAL GUN AT EACH OTHER. Sure, Will just cleared it, but both know waving a firearm around is inexcusable. This completely undermines Will’s authority to talk about gun safety, yet nobody, nobody points that out. Instead, the other characters make a point of telling the audience (three times at my count) that the person woman standing in for concealed weapons carriers is “crazy.”

This framing and focus pretty much sums it up.

2. Ah yes, the woman problem.

Less here, but still present. At the climax, when McAvoy needs to decide whether to go with the ‘Congresswoman is Dead’ angle, he turns and asks . . . who? Not his producer, but the guy standing behind her, the guy who’d walked away from the show just 3 episodes ago.

This is nothing less than blatant, abhorrent undermining of his producer’s authority. It’s at best unprofessional, but mostly the message that comes across is ‘this woman is here to do nothing more than stutter out an apology to our hero in this hour when everyone is thinking about mortality. She’s not here to make game-time decisions.’ The line about ‘doctors pronounce people dead, not news anchors’ would have been just as powerful, if not more so, delivered by MacKenzie. But McAvoy/Sorkin can’t let her have it.

This is nothing less than blatant, abhorrent undermining of his producer’s authority. It’s at best unprofessional, but mostly the message that comes across is ‘this woman is here to do nothing more than stutter out an apology to our hero in this hour when everyone is thinking about mortality. She’s not here to make game-time decisions.’ The line about ‘doctors pronounce people dead, not news anchors’ would have been just as powerful, if not more so, delivered by MacKenzie. But McAvoy/Sorkin can’t let her have it.

Will as The Lonely Beacon

3. McAvoy is an alter ego for Sorkin.

We can only take so much of the ‘lonely beacon of reason, put upon by this cruel, cruel world’ bit. How many times must we hear him tell vapid women “I’m trying to civilize you!” [Five, counting when other characters say it for him.] How many times must sad music play as he is denied sex, money, and more for standing up for his principles? We get it! He’s the last real newsman, bearing the torch passed by the ancient souls in the credit sequence, trying to save the world.

Now, do something else with the character. Just not the thing in point #4.

4. The schtick about McAvoy being unable to talk to a woman is absurd.

Here is a character who has two defining traits, one of which is “has a Netflix queue of women.” We’re supposed to believe this character needs a push to walk up to an available, tipsy woman at a party? I think the writer(s) think it’s endearing, a big strong manly man reduced to quivering jelly at the sight of a beautiful woman. But not only is it not endearing, it’s horribly inconsistent with the characters, and it’s ridiculous to expect the audience to accept that a man who beds dozens of women a month somehow gets them into said bed without having the slightest idea how to flirt or flatter. Incidentally, this is a problem Cougar Town also has. Do you really want that to be your legacy, The Newsroom? I didn’t think so.

Final Thoughts:

The editing and direction was less condescending than Episode 3, and this was the best since Episode 1. I will continue to watch; I see what the show is trying to do, and it’s got good points buried under the melodrama. But for heaven’s sake.

– Stop trying to write love stories, stop trying too hard, stop canonizing Will (and by extension yourself).

– Let the actors have their heads;  Daniels and Mortimer, especially, could do something great with this. That’s what helped make The West Wing. Right now the characters are all the bloody same. Except, kind of, Jim, who was ripped straight from The Office.

I’m really interested to see what happens if/when the show moves from recent history news stories to happening now news stories (hopefully a mercifully short stint) to entirely fictionalized news stories.

I’m committed to pictures on this blog having hover text.

Comments
5 Responses to “The Newsroom Episode 4: I Will Try and Fix You, The Newsroom”
  1. Heather says:

    Read this. Loved it. Went back and read the picture captions. Loved it more. I have nothing to add to this conversation, and hope you continue to review episodes.

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks much!

      I’m definitely considering a consistently running episode review. You may have just pushed me over the edge.

      • Nicholas says:

        I, too, concur, though since I’ve not seen the episodes after this, I’ve also just committed myself to skipping past spoilerific posts until after I’ve watched them.

        I’m also with you on (1) wanting the inane love geometric shapes to not be (why can’t MacKenzie be in a normal adult relationship? I fear this is going to end up building into some sort of soul-crushing MRA arc, which will make me want to remove the show from my automated downloader), and (2) letting the characters grow into more than cardboard cutouts.

        • Melanie says:

          ‘love geometric shapes’ are possible in some shows. Aaron Sorkin’s are not those shows. They indeed turn into cardboard characters having juvenile (Maggie/Jim/Don, especially), 2-dimensional relationships, which in turn seem to limit them in every aspect of life, ie they are unable to do their jobs due to the distraction.

          As the Olympics are on, I’ll not be watching/reviewing anything else for another 2 weeks, so that may give you a chance to catch up. The series has at least recovered somewhat from Episode 3, and hopefully will look up from here.

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  1. […] guilty about cheating on him years prior. He claims to be a gun advocate and expert, then literally waves a gun at a woman while trying to make a case against her carrying a gun. Yet nobody so much as slaps him on the […]



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