The Newsroom – Episode 1-8 Review – “Aaron Sorkin Hates Women & The Internet”

OK, the blog title was meant to get your attention a little bit, but read on and you’ll know what I mean.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve last written about The Newsroom, and I’m still enjoying the show. I thought last week’s episode, about reporting on the killing of Osama bin Laden, was a good one. That’s a tricky subject, and I felt like Sorkin did a good job of making sure that a variety of reactions were captured. (I love seeing Tom’s ex-girlfriend Lucy from Parks and Recreation on the show as Neal’s girlfriend.)

I had mixed feelings about this week’s episode, “The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn”. The show has a lot of plates spinning right now, and it’s tough to keep them all in the air. There was a lot of commentary on the Casey Anthony trial as entertainment news/tragedy porn/ratings fodder. There was commentary on Anthony Weiner, whether his tweeting a photo of his own, well, wiener, was relevant, and the bimbos that try and get their fifteen minutes of fame out of such a scandal. There was follow up on the “Call me late for dinner” source, the attempted takedown of Will McAvoy and wiretapping. And there was a journalist following Will around to write a profile who, oh yeah, just happened to be the guy MacKenzie cheated on Will with.

Yep. A lot of plates.

I’d like to give the show credit for acknowledging that MacKenzie, Will and Charlie can’t simply click their heels together three times and decide to do the news better. This felt like one of the first times the show addressed that, oh hey, maybe Americans don’t want smart news. Or at least the majority of them don’t. So when ratings drastically dropped over the lack of Casey Anthony coverage – a ratings drop so significant that it could provide the network with reasonable grounds to fire people – Will and Charlie had to convince Mac to sell out and cover the scandal.

I would argue with the idea the show presented that the Casey Anthony trial was covered at the expense of reporting on the loan defaulting debates. If my memory serves me correctly, there was plenty of coverage on that issue. But hey, I could be wrong.

I had a hard time caring about Paul Schneider as Mac’s ex though, and I would have been more interested in the story if he were just simply a journalist. There’s enough intrigue in someone writing that story that you don’t need that extra, twisted layer of drama. But I’ve never been a fan of the Mac and Will relationship drama at all.

I loved the scene with Charlie in the library. Talking to the wrong person and saying “This is a story you’ll tell later”, the stuff with the carnation (“Did I say anything about a carnation?”), the phone battery, it all worked. I also liked Maggie’s passionate defense of intelligent Christians, though I don’t see how an attack-mode debate would work, and I enjoyed Don’s slick, quick dissection of Nancy Grace’s splashy, tabloid news model.

OK, now onto the inspiration for the review title.

I know Sorkin loathes the Internet and the show has always been peppered with Internet insults (Intersults? No?) but this episode felt particularly laden with them. “Today, you have a blog,” Will told the once respected, now laughable journalist. The word blog was dripping with contempt. A bit much. Oh, and the real newsman can’t even find his blog, let alone write it himself. And that darned technology, always coming out with a better model in another six months! And hey, oh, have you heard of Internet trolls? Don’t they totally suck??? It’s all a bit much.

Much like technological progress, the show continues to hate on women a little too much for my liking as well. Hey, look how easy it is to make all women hate Casey Anthony! Show them a tattoo and they’ll burn her at the stake because women don’t have brains! And you will never convince me that someone as intelligent and, frankly, smokin’ hot as Sloan would react so insecurely to hypothetically having a large bottom. And of course, it’s not Anthony Weiner we’re meant to make fun of, but the Kardashian-wannabe mistress who comes on the show to “show the world what kind of man he is”.

It’s this kind of material that prevents me from ever truly enjoying the show, which is a shame because I really do want to.