Dialogue and The Newsroom

by distractingdelusions

You know why I like, The Newsroom? Because it’s basically Sports Night with The West Wing‘s budget and Jeff Daniels as Wes Mendell.

That’s a joke, of sorts. It’s also completely true.

Yes, I like Aaron Sorkin’s writing. He is a great writer and, though he is certainly predisposed to preaching in the same manner as Will McAvoy, I wish more people in television & film wrote with his level of passion.

Seeing Studio 60 dumped for the incredibly dull, stereotype heavy, 30 Rock, irked me. Especially since they were two completely different shows that could have quite easily existed in the same schedule. So when I saw Sorkin himself mar the launch of The Newsroom with reckless abandon in *that* interview with Sarah Nicole Prickett, of The Globe and Mail, frankly, it sucked. In one interview he gave every anti-Sorkin commentator, and every jealous hack, exactly the excuse they had been waiting for to write volumes and volumes on how irrelevant and over-rated they believe him to be.

But it got people’s attention. It made those people watch the show and make up their minds about a few things. Pretty quickly, people who wouldn’t usually talk about politics began stating whether they did, or didn’t, agree with the way key political issues were, and are, handled; both on the show and in reality. These people, who previously chose to remain mute, or willfully oblivious, were forced to clarify their thoughts so that they could articulate why they support or oppose motions and ideas mentioned, sometimes only fleetingly, on the show. People are now participating in dialogues and debates about their own beliefs and taking an active interest in important social and political issues.

Because of a TV drama. 

And a stupid interview.

Sure, a lot of these discussions have been motivated by the petty desire to hammer home one of two equally inane points:

a) ‘And that’s why The Newsroom and Aaron Sorkin SUCK!’

b) ‘And that’s why The Newsroom and Aaron Sorkin RULE!’

But they’re thinking. People who had no interest in the radicalisation of the RNC, or even the protests going on around their own country, in the US, a few months ago, are now thinking. That is what makes a good show.

Great storytelling isn’t created solely by ensuring that the story and character arcs progress from point A, through point B, all the way to the inevitable cliffhanger finale of point C. And a good writer doesn’t just want to shout their story and opinion into the wind and walk away. They want to make people talk and, by this measure, The Newsroom is a resounding success. Even if half of the internet purports to hate it, and that stuck-up rich guy that created it. No, it isn’t perfect – though the performances, across the board, have been uniformly superb – but it certainly hasn’t deserved the level of unbridled hostility it has evoked from a sizable portion of the media.

I will, at some point in the near future, do a proper review of the entire first season. I tend to find that Sorkin’s shows are better reviewed as a whole, rather than by individual episodes. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, you’ll understand when you watch it.

The closing of the circle, and all that.

Right now though I’m going to console myself with the passing of the first season by continuing my Sports Night marathon. If you want to see the true roots of The Newsroom, I strongly suggest you revisit the first season of Sports Night. Considering it was billed as a comedy-drama the amount of raw emotion it evokes at the end of almost every twenty-two minute episode (Dan’s speech at the end of episode two in particular) is astonishing. Doubly so when you take into account the ill-advised, network-added, laughter track it had to contend with.