The Newsroom Season One

By Helen MacDonald
Jun 06, 2013

With Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer on board and Aaron Sorkin – the king of snappy, smart dialogue writing, The Newsroom looks like a winner. And it so nearly is. It follows the day-to-day workings of ‘News Night,’ anchored by Daniels’ Will McAvoy and produced by Mortimer’s MacKenzie McHale, a fictional show-within-a-show whose aim, according to McHale, is “the death of gossip and voyeurism. Speaking truth to stupid.” In other words, they’re trying to restore some dignity to prime-time journalism.

Of course, that’s a noble – and much-needed – objective. When it focuses on that side of the plot, The Newsroom is everything you’d expect; clever, thought-provoking, engrossing and valuable. It is genuinely interesting to see 2010’s events – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the failed Times Square bombing, et cetera – reported as they could and should have been; without scaremongering and bullshit. Trouble is, the flipside of the show, its attempts to explore the human relationships at the heart of the newsroom, is so weak that it cripples the whole enterprise. There’s no depth, and the attempts at humor are misguided at best. There are glimpses of a good show here, but they disappear quickly.

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