Andre Jurieu wrote:
domino harvey wrote:Bates Motel ... is the poster show for hate-watching.
The comments section of any review for The Newsroom
would beg to differ.
domino harvey wrote:Too many people actually ended up liking it this season though
Well, I actually thought The Newsroom
started decreasing in quality this season (and its first season was fairly dubious in quality for the most part). While I still have no idea why they spend so much time focused on every white character's love-life, the worst aspect of the show this season was its utter contempt for anyone outside the main cast, with characters being introduced simply to serve as either foils to the central characters or justifications for the behavior of the main characters. The only function of these peripheral (or often entirely superfluous) characters was to quickly reinforce the competency and morality of the staff without having to put any additional effort into actually constructing ways to demonstrate their skills or ethics, since they were able to simply compare themselves to supporting characters that were just poor examples of their profession.
The central plot of the season would have been far more effective if it actually involved Sorkin's main characters
making poor decisions during their investigation of a story despite their best efforts and despite the logical conclusions that would reasonably be drawn from the evidence they uncovered.
Instead we're subjected to
knowing immediately that they have been misled by a overly ambitious and substantially inferior outsider, who is only considered a "colleague" based on the company that writes his pay cheques, and has made the conscious decision to falsify information (which is naturally uncovered by one of our resourceful and ingenious main characters) in an effort to advance his career while completely discarding the morality of the situation. Therefore, any mistakes made by the members of our central characters are obviously excusable, which reinforces our faith in their abilities and convictions, but also dramatically reduces the impact on this entire plot-line because the stakes are so incredibly low. Basically, the Jerry Dantana character is introduced to function as the staff's ultimate villain - like a crusty-old-fun-hating-Dean that is just creating unnecessary obstacles for our well-meaning college kids - with Sorkin providing him with almost no respect as a functioning character.
At times it was downright painful to watch so many obvious screen-writing techniques - Sorkin created an entire episode supposedly devoted towards his journalists attempting to explore issues in Africa, which actually only served as a misguided attempt to
put one of his cast members through some personal trauma that would apparently further develop the character and increase our sympathy towards her (it really didn't work for me).
Meanwhile the African characters and their actual plight were rendered completely expendable. Of course,
after those African people had served their function towards making us feel really really bad for Maggie, the entire plot is dropped completely and we can shuffle that topic off to the side because, really, the only thing that matters about Africa is how it's so bad there that it drives a young red-head that does some research for a cable news program to drink on her off-hours and become slightly more promiscuous. So the real lesson about Africa is that it's just so tragic how Maggie is dealing with that trauma and all the avoidable heartbreak in her life, since her uncontrollable tailspin could have been avoided if circumstances were juuuuust a little bit different for her. She really is a misunderstood hero in all this craziness.
I also started to actively hate the Jim Harper character (and I'm actually not even sure what the difference between his character and Don is other than their haircut - please insert ordinary-looking 30-something white-male actor who can adequately memorize large amounts of dialogue and immediately walk into a scene acting either unbearably pompous for no explicable reason, or exceedingly awkward in order to retain some sympathy). If Sorkin didn't reveal the outcomes of his main plot-line immediately (which basically destroys a huge amount of narrative momentum and reduces most of the stakes when characters are asked to make decisions), perhaps Jim might come off as incredibly competent and astonishingly intuitive when everything is said-and-done. Instead, because we already know the outcome and therefore what is right and what is wrong (which Sorkin continues to fall back upon despite all the problems with this set-up from the first season), Jim comes off as a dick and the only reason anyone would accept his rationale (which isn't even logical) is because we are able to judge his decisions based on the fact that we know he's on the correct side of the argument afterwards. If I was stuck in a meeting with someone like Jim and he argued against a logical point by basically saying "it doesn't feel right in my gut" I would pretty much immediately start making a bunch of Iraq/WMD jokes and ridicule him without mercy. The entire point of this show is to demonstrate that news should be far more rational and logical by reporting factual information in order to raise the level of political discourse within US society. Sorkin repeatedly critiques special-interest groups and demographic sections of voters who discard facts and evidence in favor of their misguided opinions and irrational reactions. Yet, when his characters are faced with making tough decisions, he expects his audience to respect the "gut-feeling" of his central characters because we know they are just so damned competent at their chosen profession. It's absolutely ridiculous.
The other aspect of the main storyline that just seemed overwrought was that the staff felt
so incredibly shameful about their mistake and were utterly shattered by the fact that they had lost the trust of their audience.
While that's certainly noble and I know that Sorkin's characters are supposed to care much much more about the quality of their work than anyone who has ever worked on anything ever, I have a tough time thinking this is remotely realistic within the TV-News industry that currently exists. With entire cable news networks reporting almost anything they want without any real mandate to provide facts, or with the 24-hour news-cycle constantly prompting immediate guesses rather than actual verified information, and with numerous stories and investigations repeatedly proved to be false within minutes of the story airing, it really felt like The Newsroom
overestimated the "trust" that the audience now requires from their TV news sources. Maybe I'm just more cynical than other audience members, but I don't really think many people believe that cable-news is even capable of accurately reporting the news anymore. They are just a source for immediate footage of events that are occurring with partial and incomplete information being delivered while those images are being displayed. Even during any investigate report conducted by these news organizations, I'm usually watching the report while remaining incredibly skeptical of the reporter's competency, investigative ability, and personal agenda. It's gotten to the point where I'm pretty sure both the audience and the television journalists sort of just shrug it off when they hear how badly an investigation was conducted by a TV-journalist because it's just par-for-the-course. News networks screw-up so regularly and repeatedly that the integrity of the institution seems rather secondary to everyone involved. So the reaction of the News Night
staff to the
unknown inaccuracy of their story seems far too broad, especially when it's so apparent that the problem was isolated to one staff member who was certainly not as awesome at their job as the main characters, and the obvious decision is to fire him and apologize. All the extra anxiety from Charlie and Mack just seems useless and comes off as needless posturing for the sake of looking like they are far more sorry for their actions then they really should be.
Plus, did you know that Olivia Munn's character (it's almost offensive that this role can be called a "character") is really attractive? But Sloan Sabbith is also incredibly intelligent, extremely competent at her job, morally upright, and adorably dorky, so don't just make assumptions about her based purely upon her flawless aesthetics. She's a real person with a bunch of substance, damn it! Enough substance to choke Linda Lovelace. Hey, get your mind out of the gutter you filthy excuse for a human-being! Sloane Sabbith deserves more respect than that because she has two PhDs and exudes the type of brilliance and insight that could only be properly appreciate by the really intelligent and perceptive males that surround her at News Night
, who have a far deeper comprehension of everything that is attractive about femininity than those cretins who only want to focus on how visually pleasing Olivia Munn ... er... um ... I mean Sloan Sabbith might initially appear. Please ignore the plot-line about slut-shaming nude pictures on the internet, or the endless C-plots about her awful choices in men and her embarrassingly droll dating life, and the fact that Will constantly makes her look incompetent on the air so we can all laugh at her expense. Sloan Sabbith is the Gloria Steinem of fictional economic-cable-news coverage! But we just want to remind you that she's also really hot. Just don't judge her based on her looks you shallow, disgusting, superficial audience-members. Did we mention how ridiculously gorgeous she is?
... and yet I still kept watching in hopes that the next episode would dramatically improve in quality and perspective.