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+.


(continued) As far the Gabby Gifford story: the characters had tears? *I* had tears. This is real. This is life. And no amount of pompous politically correct grandstanding penned by a Pollyanna critic will make it otherwise.


Brandon: absolutely right! This is an amazing and brilliant show. I have to think that the writer of this review doesn't get that real life is often like this. The reactions were real, not contrived. The situations weren't a misogynist fantasy. People - men and women both - often act a little crazy sometimes. It happens. I have friggen' seen it. Like the time we had a major blackout on the east coast. People had to react to an unusual situation, and their behaviours changed accordingly. Some people did some noble things. Some become weird and wild. I know of one guy who went home to his guns, determined to set up camp and defend his stuff. Others performed acts of bravery. And people - all the time - find weird moments of joy in the midst of trouble. None of the scenes in this episode struck me as unreal or unlikely. People aren't as neatly defined perhaps as Richenthal would like them to be. Women sleep with celebrities *because* of their celebrity. Don't believe me? Ask any major rock and roll musician. They'll tell you. Or better yet - ask the prison wardens about those fawning sensual letters sent by weird ducks to prison inmates. The scenes around the shooting of Gabby resonated deeply with me. The characters had tears? *I* had tears. All I could recall was her amazing smile as she came out of recovery. This is life. This is real. And no amount of politically correct nonsense spouted from the keyboard of a Pollyanna critic will change that.


I couldn't disagree with you more! This episode was incredible and the best one yet. And I personally love that this nation's events are utilized and not some pointless fiction. I love and have always loved Aaron Sorkin's work. And as a woman I was not at all offended by the stereotypes used. They were there to use because those women exist. Doesn't mean Aaron Sorkin was insulting all women. I found those women stupid and that's what made the storylines funny. Lighten up buddy! Sit back and enjoy the's entertainment!!!!


This is one of the best shows on TV, period.


You guys at TV Fanatic definitely need a non bias person reviewing this show because this is one of the most refreshing shows on TV right now.


Really proud of the comments section for not being manipulating into disliking this show by the reviewers. Kudos. This show show is educational and entertaining. Exactly what Americans need.


This review has so many stupid points I'm baffled.
I mean consistently every week you've been trashing the show regardless of the great popular support it's been receiving and even regardless of most of what readers here think and comment. I'm not saying the reviewer should change his mind, probably a less biased and more competent reviewer would make the cut. Now that I got that off my chest I just wanted to point out two things that particularly bothered:
- I fail to see how this show is in anyway classifiable as mysoginistic. It's one of those post-feminist bullshit claims that keep on being used whenever a woman comes out as a bitch in a show. Well guess what... some women actually are bitches! And some women actually are stupid. Etc. etc. Could you please tell me how male characters such as Don or Leona's son were painted up to now? Why does it always have to be mysoginistic when you either don't get it or don't like it? - Out of EVERYTHING in the review (i'm not sure i agree with anything to be honest) this is what really left me speechless.
"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."
I mean.. seriously? SERIOUSLY? Are you really pointing out that the writer is creating a climax towards an event that HE ALREADY KNOWS? Isn't that part of what writing is supposed to do? Would you want the characters to give impromptu performances and actually do the news? This is probably the most incorrect, biased and really content-empty review I've read in years.


Amen to the annoying depiction of women, especially the portrayals of Maggie and Mac. Really, would anyone as immature, jealous, highly-strung and inept as Maggie have a job in a high-stress work environment? And "Big Foot"???? Please. A little more drama, a lot less soap opera please.


The amusing bit is that while the show's fictional Newsroom might champion a liberal-ish spin, the show revels in a nostalgic traditionalism that defines some of the most head-smacking elements of conservative ideology. If you can't see the sexism and over-the-top paternalism in this show, you aren't watching with much awareness.


For those that didn't like the Gifford shooting story and the celebration of proper coverage in the story, name an event that is traffic. The Sorkin world is not just good entertainment but it is a world we can stride for. The West Wing was about an ideal government and plays tribute to the patriotic presidencies like FDR, JFK, Carter, Clinton and Obama. And it was compared the non patriotic such as many republicans. Not all republicans, but liberty was what this country was founded on so you can't be anti liberal and patriotic at the same time. The Sorkin world is about what they said the first episode of striving to do better.

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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.