The Newsroom Season 1 Report Card: B-

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The Newsroom concluded one of the most buzzworthy seasons of any show in recent memory on Sunday. Was it positive buzz? Negative? Both at once, sometimes from the same fan or critic regarding the same episode?


Talk about a polarizing, confounding show to watch and review. But we gave it our best, and now I'll do my best to relive the best and worst from The Newsroom in this TV Fanatic Report Card...

It's the Greater Fool

Best Character: Gotta be Will McAvoy, right? He may have sat on a soapbox for most of every episode, and I may have wanted to throw many drinks in his face myself, but he was the driving force of the show and I did agree with pretty much every word out of his mouth while he stood on that soapbox at least.

Worst Character: MacKenzie McHale. What a total mess of a character. Introduced as a tough, war reporting veteran who knew how to control Will and her studio, MacKenzie quickly devolved into a finger-counting, ankle-spraining, shriek-filled wet blanket who pined after Will left and right. Emily Mortimer excelled in the role; it was simply poorly written.

Best Episode: "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn." An amazing speech by Maggie, an actual backbone shone by MacKenzie and a storyline based more on the characters themselves than some message about some major news story from two years ago.

Worst Episode: "5/1." Total manipulation all around. An episode that didn't care about serving the characters in any way, just in tugging at our 9/11-related heartstrings.

Least Funny Moment: Jim running into the glass door. No, wait, Will falling over while trying on a pair of pants. Both of these slapstick moments and many others were painful to watch and far below the high standards previously set by Aaron Sorkin. Or so I would have thought.

Most Poorly Handled Love Triangle: Do I really need to say it? And must we now call it a love square - or even pentagon - following Sloan's admission to Don on the season finale?

Hopes for Season 2: Where to start?!? I've never enjoyed watching a bad TV show more in my life. The use of hindsight is a lazy cheat; the women are portrayed as rambling weaklings; the romantic entanglements are horribly handled; the jumping forward of weeks or even months at a time makes it impossible to really follow characters or relationships, as the series mostly cares about making grand speeches and statements about the state of journalism and politics these days. And yet...

... those speeches are often mesmerizing! The performances are terrific! And - what can I say? - it can be inspiring to hear a character go off on a topic about which I've also been angered over the recent years (see Maggie versus Michele Bachmann's claims about God; Will's comparison of the Tea Party versus the Founding Fathers.).

As a television series, The Newsroom is poorly constructed. But it is ambitious and, for all the criticism leveled against it, this is not a dumb show. It's not cliche-ridden and it's definitely original. That's refreshing.

Overall Grade: B-.

Your turn, TV Fanatic: What grade would YOU give The Newsroom Season 1?

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


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The negatives that you pointed out actually seemed realistic to me. The love triangle points at a dynamic common to many: frustrated attraction. Can't remember how many times I've missed out in my own life because of a wrong sense of politeness or naivety. It happens. The slapstick stuff resonates too: I've been caught yelling in anger over a misplaced set of keys only to discover they wee in my hand the whole time (and no I'm not a stupid guy). :) And MacKenzie appealed to me on many levels too, even with her frustration. She was just all around too cute for words. Like in life, one person's trash is another's treasure - which is why I think the writing worked.


Agreed... incredibly frustrating show.... it reaches such great highs and yet bottoms out seconds later. I'm in the choir when it comes to the soapboxing.. but as a fan of Stewart/Colbert also, I find that News Night is simply riffing on their points.. riding their coattails... it's interesting that the Daily Show and Colbert are never mentioned alongside Fox, MSNBC, and CNN in the newsroom on this show.... that being said I will tune in again next year... been a Sorkin Fan for too long... just really happy he found a new title for the last episode of his first season of a show.... that proves there is still hope for him yet!


Best Character: Charlie Skinner Worst Character: Don Keefer Best Episode: The 112th Congress - Sorkin writes flashbacks flawlessly. Worst Episode: We Just Decided To Least Funny Moment: Will and his pants. Most Poorly Handled Love Triangle: All. Hopes for Season 2: Remove Don and Maggie from the equation. S Overall Grade: D-


Love this show! A. Best character: Will. Duh.
Worst character: Don. IT's just so confusing wheteher he is a good guy or a bad guy, but he's really just a pain in the butt.
Best episode: Tied for "Amen" and "I'll Try to Fix You"
Worst episode: None. Maybe the pilot, because it was a little shaky to begin with.


This critic's review of The Newsroom reminded me why I'm glad I don't have a critic's eye and sensibilities. It seems critics expect characters, dialogue, evolving relationships, storylines, etc. to be smart and flawless, and time never wasted, instead of being realistic. When taking on a critic's view, my own mind is blown just contemplating what my life would have been if I'd have had talented people perfectly scripting all my conversations, selecting my friends and lovers, making sure all my life decisions were smart, chosing only correct responses to life's challenges, and scoring my life's background music, not to mention hairstyle, makeup and clothing selections. Fortunately, I'm effortlessly able to gloss right over the storyline flaws and weaknesses of most TV shows and movies, since they're NOT REAL to begin with. (Bad acting is different story.) Otherwise, I'd be mad as hell to find out that the guy in Lincoln Lawyer isn't an attorney after all, but instead a strip club owner in Texas. I'd also have been annoyed watching Hope Springs, wondering the entire time why a modern-day couple was portrayed like June and Ward Cleaver from my parents' generation. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed that movie. I'm pretty sure in real life "a tough, war reporting veteran" and "a finger-counting, ankle-spraining, shriek-filled wet blanket" can reside quite comfortably within the same body. After all, as we all know by now, there's not necessarily a correlation between the ability to master one's career and emotional life with the same level of ability and finesse, especially when the career takes priority. I really like The Newsroom not only because the writing is smart, but also because the characters are flawed, aka human. I also liked a couple of critic's phrases I had not heard or thought of before: "hindsight is a lazy cheat" (love that one) and "a love square - or even pentagon" (funny). I gave the The Newsroom Season 1 an "A"!

Sue ann

I can only grade the clips I have seen on their Facebook page, and on YouTube. (I am HBO-deficient.) But I certainly agree about the MacKenzie McHale character. She makes me wince every time she is on screen. She is a walking nervous breakdown. I fail to see what would inspire this great eight-year love Will McAvoy has for her, unless he likes wet kittens. I do enjoy the rants he goes off on, just as I enjoyed those of Julia Sugarbaker. The weaker moments you describe, slapstick, etc., don't seem to make it to YouTube. I really wish I could see this series, though. The good clips make it tantalizing. Grade B+ for the clips.

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