Spotlight on TV: The NewsroomPosted: January 31, 2014
You mean to tell me you’re not watching The Newsroom yet? After two brilliant seasons and only one more to go this fall, there’s never been a better time to binge-watch all 19 glorious episodes.
I, too, was once like you. I’d heard about it and put it on “the list,” but I kept putting it off and making excuses. I’d get to it eventually. It took my dear friend Shannon buying me the first season in order for me (and my roommate soon after) to fall down the rabbit hole. I have since made it my responsibility to spread the good word and insist that my friends watch the series. And you know what, even when people have mixed feelings, I’m still encouraged. Mixed feelings are good: they lead to conversation and analysis and heated debate.
So. One of my favorite things to do is make lists, and I would like to make one for you here (don’t worry, there are no spoilers):
Reasons to Watch The Newsroom
1) The Writing
Let’s be serious; Aaron Sorkin is the main reason to watch this show. Known for his whip-smart characters, quick dialogue, and walk-and-talks, Sorkin continues to bring it episode after episode. Sure, he can be sentimental from time to time which is not everyone’s bag, but I’m all for it. Random link alert: check out his great cameo on 30 Rock.
2) The Quick Wit and Sense of Humor
The dialogue is sometimes so fast that you have to rewind to catch all the jokes packed into a one-minute scene. The combination of witty and intelligent humor never fails to amaze me.
3) Real News Stories
The primary premise of The Newsroom is that there is a fictional news channel called ACN, and we get a behind-the-scenes look at how they go about reporting the news. But what’s fascinating is that it’s real news from the not-so-distant past. An episode will focus on a major event from 2011 for example, but we get to see how this station would have reported the story to America. It’s a news channel attempting to focus on the truth rather than the ratings and then witnessing the consequences of that choice. The first season is packed with exciting reveals of which event is being reported.
4) Emily Mortimer
If you’ve talked to me about this show, you already know that I’m on a huge Emily Mortimer kick. I’ve always known about her, but I didn’t know she could shine like this. I so badly want to link to her scenes from the show, but I’m too afraid of spoilers. And it’s actually probably not as enjoyable unless you get to know these characters from the start. Emily’s work as MacKenzie McHale is exquisite and incredibly nuanced, and I cannot stop watching her. Or dressing up as her for Halloween.
5) The Structure
The show jumps around in time, particularly in the second season, and it keeps you on your toes and forces you to pay close attention. Many fans complained about the second season saying they didn’t like the change in format. What can I say? I loved it. I love that Sorkin switched it up and tried something new.
6) Musical Theatre References
7) Jeff Daniels
There’s a reason this guy won an Emmy this year. His performance as Will McAvoy is fantastic, subtle, hilarious, and all things at once. I love that he can play this role with such conviction and also do this.
8) The Characters
The character development on this show is delicious. The people we get to know are 3-dimensional and brilliant. They’re extremely smart and simultaneously deeply flawed. I’ll take character-driven storytelling any day.
9) The Soundtrack
There are some great tunes and throw-backs to look out for.
10) The Opening Credits
Speaking of the tunes, let’s hear it for Thomas Newman and the great Season 1 opening theme.
11) The Entire Cast
Yes, I highlighted Emily and Jeff above, but I honestly could do that with any of the actors on the show. The main ensemble includes Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Sam Waterston, and Olivia Munn. And then you get recurring folks like Jane Fonda and Chris Messina (swoon) or guest stars like Marcia Gay Harden and Hamish Linklater. You as an audience member are in excellent hands all around.
So go – watch the first 8 minutes on YouTube, find someone with an HBO GO account, and give it a try. And remember my rule: you have to watch four episodes to give any show a fair chance. Okay, you have my blessing. Enjoy.