The Newsroom Review: Man on a Mission

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Quick, does anyone out there have a drink to throw in Will McAvoy's face? I don't think he was splashed often enough on this episode of The Newsroom.

Easily the most presumptuous and misogynistic installment of this HBO series to date, "I'll Try To Fix You" found Jeff Daniels' anchor acting like a complete jackass. Was this really Aaron Sorkin's mission to civilize? Or to look down at the opposite sex from the loftiest pedestal possible?

Will McAvoy Pic

Let's quickly go over the ways women have been portrayed so far on The Newsroom, up to and including tonight:

They cannot send email properly... they cannot remain broken up from a man who treats them like garbage... they're obsessed with the Real Housewives... they carry guns and are labeled as "crazy" by their friends... they grow jealous of every woman who dates their ex... they only understand fashion and can't speak intelligently on world events.

Did I leave any description out? The first half of this hour just played on every negative female stereotype ever conjured, from the journalist who would sleep with Will just because he's famous to the strapped nut job who thinks she and Will are an item because they went on one date.

Moreover, it painted our hero in shining armor a $4,000 tux as the only person who could save them from themselves. See, they aren't bad people. They just have the wrong values and they don't understand what's important in life. If they would just quiet down and let Will show them... yeah, I'd have thrown every drink I could find in his face.

Then, in a tonal shift meant to be a teaching moment for viewers - always remember the bigger picture, folks - and jolt characters out of their dating stupor, Gabrielle Giffords was shot.

The same criticism applies here as applied on The Newsroom premiere when it came to BP and will continue to apply for as long as Sorkin relies on the benefit of hindsight to fictionally rewrite history. It's a lazy cop-out to make Will, Don and company into some kind of integrity-filled journalists simply because they didn't report that Giffords has been killed... when Sorkin is writing from the point of view of someone who knows Giffords wasn't killed.

Yes, the creator has admitted numerous times that this is his romanticized, ideal version of how a news broadcast should be run. But it just comes across as cheap, exploitive television when he already has the answers to all the ethical questions.

With Coldplay in the background and with tears in the eyes of every major player, we were meant to view the News Night staff as the only noble people in a dirty, ratings-obsessed game. They were so proud of their accomplishment that they smiled and practically pumped their fists, even though a Congresswoman had been shot in the head and five people actually had been killed at the scene.

But News Night did it right! That was the only takeaway the show wanted to leave us with. I just can't buy it. It's too contrived and too manipulative.

The episode ended with Giffords in critical condition and a mad man having taken the lives of five bystanders - yet Will was on a high, telling Charlie to pass along a message to Leona and celebrating like his favorite team just won the World Series.

Last week, Will compared his oversights as an anchor to the 9/11 Commission. Here, the show used the Arizona shooting as a prop to hammer home its theme of how a news show ought to educate the electorate. At some point, and we may have already reached it, the use of real-life tragedies to send a fictional-life message will stop being entertaining and start being nauseating.

I definitely need a drink just thinking about it. And not to throw in Will's mug this time.


Editor Rating: 2.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (376 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Why do you keep reviewing shows you dont like? Sure Sorkin has the benefit of hindsight. It's called (recent) historical fiction. Are you suggesting Hilary Mantel shouldn't have written "Wolf HAll" because she (and us) knows how it's all going to end. What about "McHales Navy" or "Gone With The Wind"? "Apollo13". Or any number of books/movies/tvseries set during WW2. Are you starting to get it? And as far as Will's misguided but heart felt "mission to civilize" goes - are you completely unable to detect irony at all? What about your pretentious mission to civilise Sorkin by pointing out how misogynistic a writer he is? I really love this show. It is different enough from everything else on tv and it gives me a warm, inner glow about the characters if I suspend disbelief. It's a bit of escapism that we live in a better world than we deserve to. What other show does that remind me of? The West Wing


I just re-read it, and i'm serious it is awful. Why have someone review a show they clearly have no desire to even watch let alone write about? Wasn't as bad when the old south park writer lost his flare for SP but this is exponentially worse. Please, new reviewer for this show.


I'm actually appalled at this review. I generally come here to read up and get a broader look into the universe from a different persepective than my own. Instead i get treated to someone who clearly dislikes the show rambling on about why they have a vendetta against it. Misogyny is not a constant theme in this show and the fact that you infer that speaks volumes about your character. I implore the site to assign someone else to this show for reviewing. Reading this was awful.


This show, as with most in production today, is schlock. Pulp fiction nonsense. Fun to watch. However, most distressing to me (along with the trite office politics, stereotypical execs and managers, sexist roles) is the way Sorkin tries to educate his audience by showing real news stories from his off-the-dial leftist views. Sunday nite ended with the poignant remembrance of Giffords shooting. The lies of the media? Limbaugh, Beck, Palin? Who lied about the politics of the shooter? If I remember, he was first reported to be a right-wing, gun-toting, Limbaugh/Beck/Palin robot when in fact he was a non religious, drug addicted, independent with a screw loose. Where did Sorkin include this in this episode? Biased crap. He is trying to influence this election season by constantly blasting the right without the expressing the truth from the right. And for that, I will stop watching and tell others to do the same.


At the end of Sunday's show my wife turned to me and said that it just keeps getting better. I agree. Hey Matt - here's an idea. Since you do not like it, stop watching the show.


personal lives. They were also memorable and completely entertaining. And the guys that Sorkin writes haven't exactly gotten a free pass...Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn were kinda hopeless in their personal lives also. Kinda like Jim from The Newsroom. If all of these characters were perfect there would be no reason to watch...who wants to see perfect people who are the best at what they do? The story comes from the personality quirks. Why can't you just accept this show for what it is? You said yourself that even Aaron Sorkin says that this show is an idealized version of how to do a news broadcast. So why do you keep expect it to be something that it is not? Why can't you just enjoy it for what it is?


As a woman, I was not and am not insulted by the portrayal of women on this show. I am a gainfully employed woman with a master's degree who is very good at my job and also watches Real Housewives, sometimes has trouble creating a simple spreadsheet (not something I use for my job on a daily basis) and gets irrationally jealous of women who date my ex. Women are complex and sometimes silly. And yes, there are some of us out there who sleep with men just because they're rich and famous (um...ever heard of sports groupies?). I can't stand these women and they give all of us a bad name, but I'm not going to deny that they exist either. And I think that Aaron Sorkin writes women better than many of the writer's out there. Abby Bartlett, Donna Moss, Ainsley Hayes, Dana Whitaker, and Natalie Hurley were some of the best written characters on television. And then there is my all time favorite...CJ Cregg. These women were were the best at what they did and kind of goofy in their personal lives. They were also memorable and completely entertaining. I enjoy The Newsroom for what it is...entertainment value. You said yourself that Sorkin has said that it is an idealized version of a news broadcast so why do you keep expecting it to be something different? Why can't you just enjoy it for what it is?


Unfortunately, though I am a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing style, I regret that he is using his talent in a grossly obvious attempt to breathe life into the dying medium of Cable News. I assume that's why the show was written, as sort of a swan song of the industry, a nostalgia piece. Sorkin's liberal monday morning quarterbacking ideas of what the media should have done to avoid becoming discredited and obsolete. Unfortunately the second episode's chest thumping "We are the Media Elite!" Sounds a little like the desperate cry of a mortally wounded Nazi than something remotely palatable or attractive to viewers. "Americans are stupid". I guess it's up to Sorkin and HBO to educate them with a Cable Drama about news. After that you can watch Vampires and werewolves and fairies frolic around in the Swamp. Pretentious, insulting to real journalists and tries way too hard. The show's McAvoy smacks a little too sweetly of the recently dethroned Keith Olberman. I'm surprised they didn't do a segment called "You're kind of bad person" on the show. Maybe that will be in the next episode. You know, this HBO. If I want shoulda, woulda, coulda with slick, intelligent, sounding patterspeak dialogue on the 2010 news, I can do that myself. Maybe not quite as well as Sorkin but well enough.
Show me Olivia Munn getting naked already or just roll over to ABC on monday nights. How did all these journalism majors suddenly decide they should be educating the American electorate? Pretty funny since the voting electorate is generally about as well educated as news anchors.
"We are the voting elite!"


Misogynistic? You've got to be kidding. Every single thing on the show has happened in my life more often than I care to remember. Are you aware of what women today are watching in hordes? It's shocking. Sorkin is sparing no sides -- men and women, left and right -- everyone is under the gun, and it's incredible riot of swashbuckling writing.


Newsroom is definitely low tier stuff, especially for HBO. I guess if it was devoid of profanity, it could mingle with a lot of the junk on network, but that isn't singing any praises. Anyway, this episode finally put me over the edge (or was it the premiere of Breaking Bad?) - no reason to continue watching. Nothing feels real, it isn't as �snappy� as Sorkin desciples tout, it is irritating (a bit blunt... Goes back to the lack of reality), and the hindsight approach, while perfectly reasonable on paper, is so lazy and pretentious in execution. Also, I don't give a damn what Sorkin has done in the past, what he is doing or saying here, the show is just so subpar. Pretty amusing, and pathetic that so many discussions (positive or otherwise) practically mention Sorkin more than the actual characters. Just goes to show that the emigma behind the show is the only reason why it got a jump out of the gates in terms of ratings, and probably why it won't have a very good run.

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The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

Will: I'm on a mission to civilize.
Charlie: How's it going so far?

Charlie: Have you read the New York Post?
Will: No. My eyes are connected to my brain.