Newsroom, The – Seasons 1-3


What makes America the greatest country in the world?

Main Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer

Creator: Aaron Sorkin

There was a time, not so long ago, when the news was not a non-stop source of stress and fear. I know, that seems impossible, but it’s true. It was an innocent time when the biggest problem with the news was that it usually wasn’t very interesting. There was even a thing called a slow news day. HAHAHAHA

Well, we don’t live in that world anymore and Aaron Sorkin never did. If you’ve seen a single episode of The West Wing, you know that with Sorkin, everything is fast. And so it is with The Newsroom.

The Newsroom, which originally aired from 2012-2014, stars Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. Will is the most popular cable news anchor in the country. He’s likable, apolitical, and miserable. After an unpleasant experience at a seemingly innocent campus presentation, Will decides it’s time to stop being popular and go back to doing the news.

Egging him on in this endeavor are MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) his former girlfriend and new executive producer, and Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), the president of his network. This trio is done with treating both sides as equally legitimate, done with news as entertainment, done with pandering. They want to present information that helps create an informed electorate.

They are tilting at windmills. And they know it.

The Newsroom follows their journey to reform their show, regain their integrity, and do some good for the world.

Sorkin chose to set the show two years before it aired, so the team is covering real events that were fresh in the minds of viewers. The Deep Water Horizon spill, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the rise of the Tea Party are among the many topical issues addressed.

The Newsroom is an outstanding example of the power of good television to open the eyes of the audience. As we watch Will, Charlie, and MacKenzie try and civilize the world of cable news, we come to understand how we got to where we are today. We fervently wish we had a real-life Will McAvoy fighting seemingly impossible odds.

The scripts are rapid-fire and whip-smart, exactly as you expect from Sorkin. The politics lean unapologetically left and the actors have to step up their games just to get all the words out of their mouths in the time allotted.

And those actors are incredible. Jeff Daniels as Will is smart and arrogant and damaged. Emily Mortimer’s MacKenzie is idealistic, fearless, and deeply loyal. And I have never seen Sam Waterston enjoy a role so much, ever. Charlie is pragmatic, realistic, and wields his power with the wisdom of years in the business.

The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. Dev Patel (looking so, so young) runs the network’s website. He battles the old guard as they reluctantly engage with new digital platforms. Alison Pill plays Maggie Jordan, a young, enthusiastic associate producer that learns a lot about the world, the business, and herself in the two and a half seasons of the show.

Thomas Sadoski (who you may recognize from Life in Pieces) is a senior producer, Maggie’s boyfriend, and someone whose personal ethos is still forming. Olivia Munn is straight-up spectacular as Sloane Sabbith, economist and very odd duck.

Everything is held together by Sorkin’s vision and scripts that leave no doubt that the news was never boring, not to the people reporting it. As usual, his world is one where integrity and optimism abound and every character is flawed in some (mostly) relatable way.

There are two and a half seasons of The Newsroom, all streaming at the moment on HBO Max. I understand why there aren’t more seasons, everyone must have been exhausted by the 25 episodes they made.

I thoroughly enjoyed every episode. My favorite scenes are those with Sloane or Charlie and I especially love those with both. If you’d like to enjoy the news for just a little while, check out The Newsroom. Revel in its eerie prescience, incredible scripts, and outstanding performances. Maybe, one day, we will know another slow news day. Until then we can bask in the fictional excitement of a newsroom dedicated to the betterment of the world.

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