The Newsroom Review: Throwing a Tea Party

at . Comments

One of my favorite relationships in TV history was between Josh Lyman and Donatella Moss on The West Wing.

From the moment we met this Deputy Chief of Staff and his assistant, it was clear there were feelings there on both sides. But they weren't acted upon, they were scarcely even acknowledged in any overt manner, until - ummm, spoiler alert? - the end of the series.

Granted, Josh and Donna worked at the White House, a rather serious place of business. But from all we've seen on The Newsroom, the folks at ACN treat their occupations with just as much gravity as those employed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

My point being: Aaron Sorkin knows how to write workplace non-romances, situations where lead characters beat around the flirting bush, remaining focused on their work but still finding time for knowing glances or gestures. Subtle stuff. Respectable stuff. Interesting, original stuff.

Election Night on The Newsroom

Not at all the stuff we witnessed on "The 112th Congress."

For the second consecutive week, Sorkin made MacKenzie and Maggie out to be desperate women stumbling all over themselves. Just because the show acknowledged how many times Maggie and Don have broken up and reconciled over the course of a week doesn't make it any more ridiculous.

We've seen nothing to make us believe this couple should work. Don doesn't seem particularly understanding, Maggie doesn't seem especially smitten. Their relationship is nothing more than an obstacle to delay the inevitable Maggie/Jim hook up, which has also been underdeveloped.

Jim was told by MacKenzie to crush on Maggie. That was apparently all it took for him to pine over her every time he's not trying to break news. Or sometimes while he's trying to break it. It's a forced, contrived situation all around and I expect more from Aaron Sorkin.

MacKenzie, meanwhile, has been made into a joke in just two episodes. She doesn't come across as strong or in control at this point. She's simply a woman looking on in awe over Will - and somehow growing jealous over his casual dating of beautiful women, even though these two hadn't spoken in years before she walked back into his life on The Newsroom premiere.

I know News Night is the Will McAvoy show, but The Newsroom is turning into the same thing and that's a shame. There could be plenty of well-layered characters to mine behind the scenes if they weren't being written as one-dimensional worshipers at the altar of their anchor.

As for the 2010 topic of the week, it was an incredibly easy target.

The Tea Party is funded by the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party is forcing moderate Republicans to go far right, the Tea Party is hijacking one half of the debate and creating a lack of reasonable opposition in this country. It's difficult to review this series without at least touching on politics, so here I go: these are obvious points with which I'd have to believe a majority of viewers agree.

The rush I got when Sorkin - through Will, someone Sorkin admits he made a moderate Republican because it would be easier for someone from within that party to attack the party without it seeming like your typical Democrat vs. Republican debate... even though we all know Will is just a stand-in for Sorkin, who is a Democrat, making The Newsroom more meta than Community - gave his characters a platform to make the sort of points I've wanted to hear from reporters for years is gone.

It's been replaced by boredom and frustration, as Sorkin is taking the easiest path here whenever possible. He's armchair-quarterbacking his way through history. Sarah Palin is an idiot? The Tea Party is killing the Republican party as we've known it? Wake me up when Sorkin has something original to say.

I'm aware that Will's actual arguments aren't meant to drive the series. It's the idea that he's an anchor willing to make them and how that affects those around him. In this episode, the takeaway is supposed be how the new News Night philosophy is jeopardizing Will's job.

But is anyone really feeling tension there? I somehow doubt Will McAvoy is about to get fired, and not just because The Newsroom was just picked up for Season 2.

Unlike many other critics, I don't mind the grandiose speeches on The Newsroom. I go in to any Aaron Sorkin series expecting the creator's views to come through in almost every scene. But I also expect nuanced, impressive writing, not bumbling females, predictable set-ups and a retelling of events from 2010.

What did everyone else think of the episode?


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
  • 3.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

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


I love this show and disagree that the interviews and info about the Koch brothers and tea party was old news. I know too many people who just cannot see through the Tea Party and I think this needs to be said, even if the show beats us over the head with the information. Maybe, just maybe we will finally "get" it. The romances are kind of silly but I keep hoping for realistic developments, especially with Maggie, whom I love.


I sat on the edge of my chair during every scene of Will grilling a guest, but as soon as the focus shifted to the pathetic jr. high fumbling romances, it was like the air went out of the balloon. Come on guys, you can do better!


The first episode set the bar pretty high, someone should have told episodes 2 and 3 that this isn't a game of limbo. The show is already turning into Countdown with Keith Olbermann .


I have watched each episode and have enjoyed them all. Then I read the reviews and cannot believe what is being said. My only suspicion is that these reviewers is trying to sink the show because it really does exploit the evils that have invaded the media's "independence." Last night's episode was sobering to say the least. And its TRUE! I think the show spends way too much time on inter office romance and should take more time to "educate" people on what has happened to our society. Yeah the news is old. So what. It's being presented in its propper form. How many people knew the richest people in America were funding the Tea Party?


Leona Lansing , " Now you want to play golf or you want to f*^% around. " A. Sorkin should have those words on repeat. So that the writer (Moses) and the critic (Jesus) come to just appreciate the game. Also this, that the game is on HBO. Home Entertainment and not HomeWork. I prefer great characters than old news. As one great character can inspire one to not just be better but to identify with those that are. This episode was good, mostly due to Sam W. and Jane F. Charlie - , " I shouted now ,I'm Burgess Meredith. This guy don't just want to beat you, see. He wants to murder you. That was my best Burgess Meredith." lol *** TV


This show is original and in my view, is presenting ideas and opinions in a smart, entertaining way. Whether or not you agree with the writer, watching The Newsroom makes you think and it gets people talking about things that matter. Bored with programming that tries to make stars out of Snooki and the Pathetic Housewives from Everywhere, I long for something that demands more than voyeuristic appeal. I think many of the reviewers are missing the is a TELEVISION show, designed for people with an IQ above 50, who believe that there are other worthy topics besides island survival, mindless sitcoms, and reality "15 minutes of fame" morons. As a huge fan of the West Wing, I have long been a fan of Sorkin's idealistic views about America, politics and now, the news. We should be talking about the things that affect our votes (and our lives) more, not less. Besides, the middle of the road has created an enormous rut through our entertainment and information landscape and I admire ANYONE who is willing to take the road less traveled! Side note: Love the theme music by Thomas Newman...beautiful!


I'm beginning to wonder if most critics r just too slow or to inept to follow the quick dialogue that clearly delineated the many characters who work in this newsroom Personally I perfectly understand the goings on & development of the character stories that most critics claime to b lacking R they possibly watching the same show or r they just inept or not clever enough to follow An early reviewer also claimed that the nr with the exception of Dev Patel was thoroughly white. We're they blind to the characters of Kendra & Gary Cooper who were strongly featured in the 1st 3 episodes. I honestly don't know where these critics get their info or if they're even watching this show


Maggie and Mack are the 2.0 version of Dana and Natalie from Sports Night. Both were a little neurotic - but both had flashes of brilliance too.


i'm in awe of this show. From the extraordinary acting to the music, this show is hands down one of the best i have ever seen. How the masses are manipulated needs to be shown, the truth about who it is that runs this country, needs to be shown and the and don't i wish truth in reporting existed. imho this needs to be rammed down our throats! Standing ovation for this show and Aaron Sorkin asking the questions! How great to see Sam and Jane!


Hi, Unhappy Camper. Aaron Sorkin has said, during several different TV interviews, that his series is meant to be about the people who do the news, not about the news itself. That's probably why the reviews and comments seem focussed on the personal lives and the romances - that's what Aaron Sorkin wants us to focus on, which is why the scenes are written and acted the way they are. We're starting to see the behind-the-scenes issues in the news reporting business get more attention in this series, though, so maybe things will start to draw away from the characters themselves. In Episode 3, Jane Fonda's character, for instance, raised the very sticky connections between the news business' legislative concerns (as a profit-making, regulated communications business) and Congress. Maybe there's still hope for this series to become less of a soap opera.

Tags: ,

The Newsroom Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

I never knew what the word 'smug' meant until I met you.


Who are we to make these decisions? We're the media elite.