The Newsroom Review: Getting High, Reaching a Low

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Why do I have a feeling this episode of The Newsroom will either be loved or hated?

Considering the sensitive/sacred nature of the topic, let me just ask ahead of time: please be respectful in the Comments section.

Awaiting Word from Charlie

I will try to keep my take on "5/1" brief and to the point: I thought it was as emotionally manipulative an episode of television as I've ever seen.

It wasn't even an episode of television, really. It was clear that Aaron Sorkin felt a need to take on 9/11 and the death of Osama bin Laden and he worked backward from there.

Yes, we got a sprinkling of some romantic banter, a subject that has come across as unnatural, under-developed and forced since the premiere. And Sorkin chose to get Will high just because... well, he thought it would be funny and he needed some sort of filler for an installment based around people mostly just sitting around the office.

But, for the most part, this was the show's 9/11 episode. It's as simple as that - and it felt contrived from the get-go, with Charlie receiving an anonymous tip (what was the point of that in the end? And can there be more of a lazy writing crutch than to simply invent a mystery person to move a story along?) and later with the series making up an email from Joe Biden.

That's been my chief complaint about The Newsroom from the beginning - that it's difficult to take seriously when it continually takes such liberties/shortcuts and simply conjures up huge coincidences (e.g. Jim's sister working at Haliburton) in order to get a story "right" - so I won't repeat it in detail here.

I will, however, focus on the manipulation aspect. The episode worked in the relative of someone who died in the attack... along with New York City police officers... and airline pilots. All of those whose impact the killing of bin Laden would most directly affect more than a decade later. I admit: I actually got shivers when Charlie first told the staff about this terrorist's death. It is rather incredible what kind of an effect a singular event can have on so many people.

But from the perspective of a television critic, and not a native New Yorker reflecting on everything associated with that date, it all felt unbelievably cheap. If you felt something when Don told those pilots about bin Laden, it wasn't because anything on the episode made you feel that way. It had nothing whatsoever to do with The Newsroom.

It was because this was the most tragic event in American history. To be blunt, it's an incredibly easy source of emotion to mine.

To me, that is not quality television. It's not any kind of fictional television. It's simply reminding viewers of a tragedy and then figuratively kicking its feet up while the sentiment washes over them.

Again, it's a complicated subject that is sure to arouse a lot of reaction. So let's have it: What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 2.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (310 Votes)

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


What a load of bollocks shit episode


Please Aaron make Maggie shut up forever. unbereable character.


Another great episode as is all of them. The Newsroom had me at "hello" with Will McAvoy's rant at Northwestern. If you feel negatively about this show than watch The Simpsons or Big Brother. They are probably more your speed anyways. This show proves how discredible some of today's real newsrooms can actually be when it comes to reporting the news acuratley in factually. I wish I could watch a real news segment that reports it the way this show does with integrity.


May I just say: Maggie, shut the #&%@ up!! That character has become nothing but fingernails on a blackboard.


Everyone just smiled and partied when they heard the man was shot to death? He's the greatest terrorist in American history and his death was definitely a long-time coming, but celebrating death like that is just creepy. Killing this jackass in cold blood was a necessary evil to prevent further bloodshed, but it is still a necessary EVIL. Murder shouldn't be celebrated, regardless the circumstance. The seals deserve a hand-shake, a pat on the back, and medals for their work, but to celebrate a man's death with champagne with your co-workers is disturbing.


Since the start of "The Newsroom" i read reviews and read user comments. What i see is since a long time, that critics are going in the "it is not worth to show it" and user comments to "a great show". Why the big difference in impression about the show ? I agree with Mermaid7, it seems the Reviewer missed the boat.


Love the show in general, but the reviewer got it wrong. Sorkin didn't feel the need to "take on" the subjects of 9/11 and bin Laden. Sorkin felt the need during this Presidential election year to remind American voters that it was the Democratic incumbent candidate, Barak Obama, who managed to terminate that terrorist s.o.b. (And before anyone gets up in my grill, I'm a Canadian, so I have no skin in the great game of American political theatre and, as a Canuck, recognize that the most left-leaning U.S. politico is probably still a half of a kilometre to the right of any member of our Conservative party. It's just that a show should function more as a "show" and less as an obvious advertisement for any political organization or candidate... or ABC After School Special with their obvious, single note message -- ooh, yes, drugs and booze are really, really bad, and bullies should just Stop It, and racism is Hateful and girls and boys are Equal, and Guns aren't Toys, Obama.)


@ Annoyed; your talking about things you don't understand, as clearly illustrated by the fact you are calling reporters and journalists 'news people'! and @ Matt: charlie's anonymous phone call was also linked to the phone hacking stories that are going to be a massive story in the coming weeks.


Couldnt stand it. News people don't Make the news, the REPORT it. In this case, Obama actually reports it, and the news people are talking heads. Not important or really needed. But, they sure acted important.


This show is as divisive as they come. I watch the show for the interpersonal relations as well as the news coverage, but I take each news story with a grain of salt. Each issue is being glorified and editorialized and with that knowledge I can watch the show with a slightly informed opinion. I do not take the script as gospel, but as entertainment. Aaron Sorkin has long been an acquired taste, one I happen to have, but I understand that some parts of the show can border on ridiculousness. I did not LOVE this episode but I do love the show. The preview for the coming weeks gave me chills. I love the interactions between characters, especially Will and Mackenzie. Any people complaining about Sorkin writing weak women in this show are obviously not watching week in and week out. ALL of Sorkin's characters are flawed. It os what makes them interesting; what makes them human. I will continue to watch, and I hope it continues, but I will do so with the understanding that it is a fictional world that I happen to enjoy being a part of for 1 hour every Sunday night.

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