The Newsroom Review: Man on a Mission
Quick, does anyone out there have a drink to throw in Will McAvoy's face? I don't think he was splashed often enough on this episode of The Newsroom.
Easily the most presumptuous and misogynistic installment of this HBO series to date, "I'll Try To Fix You" found Jeff Daniels' anchor acting like a complete jackass. Was this really Aaron Sorkin's mission to civilize? Or to look down at the opposite sex from the loftiest pedestal possible?
Let's quickly go over the ways women have been portrayed so far on The Newsroom, up to and including tonight:
They cannot send email properly... they cannot remain broken up from a man who treats them like garbage... they're obsessed with the Real Housewives... they carry guns and are labeled as "crazy" by their friends... they grow jealous of every woman who dates their ex... they only understand fashion and can't speak intelligently on world events.
Did I leave any description out? The first half of this hour just played on every negative female stereotype ever conjured, from the journalist who would sleep with Will just because he's famous to the strapped nut job who thinks she and Will are an item because they went on one date.
Moreover, it painted our hero in shining armor a $4,000 tux as the only person who could save them from themselves. See, they aren't bad people. They just have the wrong values and they don't understand what's important in life. If they would just quiet down and let Will show them... yeah, I'd have thrown every drink I could find in his face.
Then, in a tonal shift meant to be a teaching moment for viewers - always remember the bigger picture, folks - and jolt characters out of their dating stupor, Gabrielle Giffords was shot.
The same criticism applies here as applied on The Newsroom premiere when it came to BP and will continue to apply for as long as Sorkin relies on the benefit of hindsight to fictionally rewrite history. It's a lazy cop-out to make Will, Don and company into some kind of integrity-filled journalists simply because they didn't report that Giffords has been killed... when Sorkin is writing from the point of view of someone who knows Giffords wasn't killed.
Yes, the creator has admitted numerous times that this is his romanticized, ideal version of how a news broadcast should be run. But it just comes across as cheap, exploitive television when he already has the answers to all the ethical questions.
With Coldplay in the background and with tears in the eyes of every major player, we were meant to view the News Night staff as the only noble people in a dirty, ratings-obsessed game. They were so proud of their accomplishment that they smiled and practically pumped their fists, even though a Congresswoman had been shot in the head and five people actually had been killed at the scene.
But News Night did it right! That was the only takeaway the show wanted to leave us with. I just can't buy it. It's too contrived and too manipulative.
The episode ended with Giffords in critical condition and a mad man having taken the lives of five bystanders - yet Will was on a high, telling Charlie to pass along a message to Leona and celebrating like his favorite team just won the World Series.
Last week, Will compared his oversights as an anchor to the 9/11 Commission. Here, the show used the Arizona shooting as a prop to hammer home its theme of how a news show ought to educate the electorate. At some point, and we may have already reached it, the use of real-life tragedies to send a fictional-life message will stop being entertaining and start being nauseating.
I definitely need a drink just thinking about it. And not to throw in Will's mug this time.