The first season of Newsroom is in the books. I musts say I loved it, primarily because the writers are so good. Sorkin’s rapid fire dialog and wit are really unmatched, certainly on television. That said, what you want to say to the whole thing after a while is “Aw come on.” The premise is good and straightforward - that news television, like all television, is run by a bunch of marketers and we would all be better served by having reporters report the news, instead of marketers feeding us the drug of "Casey Anthony Bombshell Tonight!!!" like heroin dealers. The wit and wisdom of Aaron Sorkin, unfortunately, only takes us so far. At the end we all feel like everyone does when Will McAvoy is just plain vicious and mean spirited to the black advocate for Rick Santorum on the show. The show in the end just piles onto the Tea Party without respite(not exactly a “hard” target) or counterpoint (or really give us anything else to sink our teeth into) and is just kind of nasty about it.
In truth the Newsroom, like Fox News in the real world, despite its protestations to the contrary, is only one-sidedly idealistic. McAvoy even says in the last episode that only “democrats and 'real' republicans” are smart enough to understand, implying of course that all democrats and only a very few outcast republicans are smart. The idea that tea party republicans are stupid is both demeaning and naïve. The leadership of the tea party is not stupid nor are the members. The leadership is smart and the members are pissed off for legitimate reason. The 2010 election was won by republicans (many from the tea party), not because of tea party venality, but because of democratic bullying and refusal to compromise on health care among other things. The American people were tired of Nancy and Harry running rough shod over everyone and everything simply because they could.
This is not a show about the “truth” as it purports to be, but a show about one side's view of the truth. Exactly like Fox News. The truth is that most Americans believe both the far right represented by the tea party and the republican leadership, and the far left represented by the democratic leadership, are bad for the country and Newsroom-worthy. It’s fine to report the corruption and big money behind the tea party movement, but if one is wondering about the Kochs, shouldn’t one also wonder about the sons of Richard J. Daley and the Chicago machine? I have always wondered why it isn’t news that Junior Senator Obama’s house in Chicago was partially paid for by a convicted felon who helped run the Chicago machine and why no one raises an eyebrow when Richey Daley steps down, Rahm Emmanuel goes from chief of staff at the White House to mayor of Chicago and Richey Dailey’s brother becomes chief of staff. Isn’t that something that makes somebody go “hmmmm…?” After all the Chicago machine, run for years by the Daleys, is one of the most corrupt political machines in American political history (and machine politics' last real surviving example). Just ask JFK or Richard Nixon (or just about any native Chicagoan).
This is also not a show about reality, as some reviewers would have us believe is its failure. The good thing about this show is the same as the good thing about the West Wing. It is idealistic. It is how you would wish newsrooms around the country could be run. Truth-seeking, fact based, not concerned with ratings or marketing or fluff, willing to step up against the established political and business elite including the marketing people running the companies who own the news. So it is unrealistic. That is exactly the point. So it is one sided. So what? Of course one sidedness is remediable, but I doubt Sorkin et al will remediate it. The show does what a good, in the vernacular of Sorkin, “swashbuckling” drama should do; it presents us with idealism and realizes that ideal in the fictional world. Idealism is always “unrealistic.” That’s why it’s called idealism, not realism. Mchale and McAvoy are ideals and idealists, and a lot of fun in their quirky way. And that’s what it, and they, should be – fun. Kind of like the Three Musketeers or Captain Blood. The show’s oft cited Don Quixote, which is a tale pointing out the unreality of idealism at the same time as it points to its value, is really an analogy for the show itself and less an analogy for what the characters on the show are doing.
So, in the end the show is fun, idealistic, swashbuckling and witty with good writing. The only thing more you could want on a Sunday evening is maybe a little beating up on the other guys. They deserve it too.