Let’s be honest, The Newsroom is not without its problems. They’ve been well documented by us and practically every critic around. However, underneath all the crap, there’s a good show fighting to get out. As the season ends, we’d like to remind viewers why they should stick around for round two. If the finale made it hard to see the merit behind the mess, here are five reasons not to give up on the News Night team.
5. The Sorkin of It All
The reason critics take pot shots at The Newsroom is the same reason fans tune in religiously: Aaron Sorkin. Say what you want about his scripts (and it’s been said here repeatedly), there’s a magnetism to his work that’s proven time and time again. Sports Night, The West Wing, A Few Good Men and The Social Network come to mind. And those are just some of the successes. Sorkin recycles plots and acts like no one will notice. He objectifies women and claims the show doesn’t have a sexist tone. He sticks to his patented and well documented devices like heavily worded, fast-paced dialogue with no intention of changing. And the public devours it every week anyway. For better or worse, everything wrong about the show pulls in viewers just as much as everything right.
4. The Munn-ster
What can’t be said about Olivia Munn? Up until now, she’s been relied upon for her perfect comedic timing. But within a few episodes of The Newsroom she quickly distinguished herself as an actress with range. She’s mastered Sorkin’s quickfire speeches with notable prowess. Being a female, her character has been in no way safe from constant misogyny. Somehow Munn is able to shine, while confusing Annie Oakley with Annie Get Your Gun and constantly projecting body image issues on others. She managed to exude charm while her stunning figure was a consistent focal point when stuck on the tarmac during “5/1.” Her chemistry with the staff is almost palpable; she often shines opposite Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Thomas Sadoski. It would be nice to see her break the shackles of chauvinism once and for all. Her character is light years ahead of the rest of the accursed female cast.
Everyone has them. It’s the show’s ability to exploit that fact that keeps it afloat. Consider the moment the team threw out the rundown in the series premiere. Or the entire episode of “112th Congress,” which coasted on anxiety and anticipation thanks to that meeting with Leona and the constant flashbacks. Watching Will eviscerate his guest during “Bullies” was matched only by the guest’s return fire. There are also the touching revelations made by Will’s therapist. And let’s not forget about Amen, and all the mock debate madness. Truthfully, playing on the fans emotions can take a cheesy turn, but when done right it’s an undeniable heartthrob educing moment. Remember when the staff rallied around Will, giving him his tacky yet touching Rudy tribute? Things can be campy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be delightful.
2. The Support System
The first two episodes rested firmly on Charlie’s ability to yell and/or threaten to hurt someone. But before long, the cast proved themselves more than qualified to entertain. The list of guest stars, recurring and otherwise does not disappoint. Terry Crews, David Krumholtz, Hope Davis, Jane Fonda, Chris Messina, and Kelen Coleman; what more could you ask for? The series regulars aren’t too shabby either. The Master of the Dark Arts–also known as Don–was played superbly by Sadoski. And even with her flouncy feminine ridiculousness, MacKenzie McHale is a force to reckoned with. Anytime things get mundane, minor characters like Tess, Gary, and Kendra throw in a hilarious line to punch up the moment. There’s one element the cast has that outweighs everything else: Passion. No matter how minor or major the role, that kind of commitment makes it hard to turn the channel.
The Newsroom is heavily criticized for being unrealistic. Luckily, it’s principle of idealism obliterates the need for realism. It’s a sad fact, but Sorkin’s golden era beliefs ring true. There are very few news anchors left willing to take tough issues to task. Having kept his job in the season finale, Will could finally escape those pesky Keith Olbermann comparisons. That being said, what direction is this show headed? Will the team ever find a Democrat to criticize? Now that News Night supposedly has the support of the owners, will they continue their mission to civilize? At this point we’re far too invested to bail just yet.
Will you be sticking around for season two? Will you give The Newsroom another shot?