The Newsroom Review: Breaking the Non-News

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I apologize if this review of The Newsroom is a few minutes late.

But I just had to go back and rewatch Maggie's speech about God allegedly talking to Michele Bachmann about a dozen times. Because (I'm sorry, I try to avoid political or religious talk here, I really do, and I know this will likely get me in trouble, but...) it was word perfect in every way.

It's depressing that someone who made such a statement actually got as far as Bachmann did in the election, and even more depressing that no journalist hit her with the rational, logical, Catholic-defending line of question that Maggie posed here. It was just terrific, even if it was Aaron Sorkin at his soap box-iesh.

Sometimes the guy is just right.

MacKenzie and Will

Rant over, allow me return to "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn," easily the best episode of The Newsroom to date. Let's count the reasons why:

  1. MacKenzie showed a backbone. She stood up for what she believed to be right, it was the Mac we saw on the premiere, not the Mac we've been presented with since, who can't send an email or count without using her fingers.
  2. Yes, her storyline was still couched in pining over Will and the return of her ex-boyfriend. But at least that addition was used to shed negative light on Will. It opened him up. It moved that relationship forward. The few moments at the therapist's office - from the great diagnosis of trying to hold one's hand over the candle to Will's reaction when told he was hurting MacKenzie to Lonnie cracked me up - were very well done.
  3. The armchair quarterbacking had a purpose outside of... mere armchair quarterbacking. The episode didn't just take a major world event, such as last week's ode to killing Osama bin Laden, and use the benefit of hindsight to manipulate viewer emotion or tell us how it should have been covered. The use of non-fiction such as Anthony Wiener's wiener instead revealed insight into Maggie, while the Nancy Grace tutorial was more of a general swipe the tabloid journalism -- and what a great swipe it was, giving the talking head credit for just how she tailors her broadcast to gain ratings, while of course scoffing at the existence of such a person and program.
  4. Seriously, who doesn't love some Nancy Grace bashing?
  5. Storylines were furthered outside of News Night just reporting on actual events across the globe. Charlie's NSA mole and his information about Atlantis is interesting because it's new. I don't know how this tale will end, which is a welcome, stark contrast to issues such as BP and Gabrielle Giffords.
  6. How great has Olivia Munn been as Sloan?
  7. There was real tension here. There was MacKenzie versus Will and Charlie versus Leona, along with the intriguing debate of ethics versus business and when it's okay to sacrifice the former for the latter. Too often, The Newsroom manufactures tension - most notably the forced romantic banter between Maggie and Jim - but that wasn't the case this week.

This was the first installment of the season I can say without equivocation that I simply loved. It was snappy, it was funny, it impressively combined the real world with the imaginary one and, once again, it slammed Nancy Grace. What more could you ask for?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (161 Votes)

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


Say, you got a nice blog.Thanks Again.


Who played Mac's ex-boyfriend???? I recently saw him in something and I can't put my finger on it. Imdb's no help, btw.


Three words.... love this show!


That psychiatrist guy is totally hot - I'd burn my hand on his candle any day.


Could not agree more with Wolfshades. It's too bad that the comments are primarily negative so far. Thought the episode was incredible and very eye opening. Have to do some research to see what on the show was true and what was fiction. The issue with Bachmann isn't her religious views, its her absolute lies - that somehow God told her to run for President and then her free pass for such a ridiculous statement. Yes, Maggie is a terribly annoying character but she was spot on last night. I really really like this show and I appreciate the direction the show looks to be moving toward.


Couldn't disagree on the Maggie - Bachman comments more. First off, Maggie in an insufferable, annoying ninny. Second, mocking someone's religious beliefs is never right. Unless of course you are predisposed to dislike Michelle Bachman.


If this show was a drinking game where everytime Sorkin and crew offered their know it all, holier than thou critiques and supposedly snappy banter I would have consumed more than 15 shots of tequila last night.(That's a drink for everytime a scene made me utter "Oh my God" due to writing that was either over the top obnoxiously "wise" or half bakedly "amusing".) I wish I liked The Newsroom.
In theory, having been a big fan of Sports Night, The West Wing and Studio 60 and being a heavy duty fan of good news reporting (PBS Newshour comes to mind) I should like it.
But I don't. The writing is so blatantly manipulative that, rather than being invited into a warm bath of critical thinking and amusing rapport, I feel like I'm being dropped into an ice bath of pedantic manipulations designed to have me awestruck, not just by the failed state of modern media, but by the genius of Mr.Sorkin for seeing it all so clearly. Furthering my weekly dislike the writing that is supposed to support the idea that these people are funny and/or quirky is so forced I am reminded of my grade 10 drama class doing comedy improv. I need to do some soul searching as to out why I even bother spending my time watching this show.
Maybe paying for HBO has something to do with it.
But it's not really value for money if you come out every week feeling like Sorkin and his writers have jumped the shark, again.


Nancy Grace bashing? Hmmmm, if you ask me Nancy Grace asks the questions most journalists are afraid to ask for fear of being politically incorrect in doing so. I'm still really liking this show. Can't wait to see where this whistle blower thing goes.......


I liked some parts very much. However, as one who is not invested in the relationship between Will and MacKenzie, I long for Sorkin to pivot...get Penelope Cruz to be the EP of a competitive show, elevate the tempo throughout the primary season and leave soft targets such as Nancy Grace and Michelle Bachmann alone!!


I have consistently loved this show, but tonight was over the top balls-to-the-wall amazing. Interesting too that Charlie's bow-tie gentility is matched by his gallant attempt to warn Leona to back the F off from Will, knowing as he did that she would do no such thing. Courtesy matters to him, especially when he knows that the next scene involves him cutting her off at the knees when he blows the hacking scandal out of the water.

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