Drama as Politics By Other Means On “The Newsroom”

 

The early reviews are in for Aaron Sorkin’s new series about the television news industry, “The Newsroom,” and the critics are not impressed.

Put aside Sorkin’s penchant for highbrow, snappy banter so perfectly orchestrated that dialogue between characters merely serves to insert colons and line breaks into the writer’s own monologue. If the reviews are accurate — the bet here is they are — “The Newsroom” shares a disturbing quality with other recent Sorkin scripts. Politics infect every word.

Viewers of Sorkin’s “The West Wing” could have expected as much, but viewers of Sorkin’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” about the making of a late-night sketch comedy show could have expected more. Until “Studio 60” went live, no one would have guessed that liberal comedy writers spend so much time worrying about what shadowy conservative organizations think.

Based on details included in The Washington Post’s review, “The Newsroom” appears to be more of the same: an anchor who explodes in defiant rage when asked why America is the best country (I hear China is very nice for reporters), a producer’s  mandate that every story shall be instructive for voters (those silly people who don’t know what to do unless told), and the obligatory good Republican (the most trite of television tropes) who supports Democrats down the line and wonders where the rest of his party went wrong.

Tempting as it would be to congratulate Sorkin for confirming what many conservatives have long thought about newsrooms — that they are merely Democratic rapid-response shops — the reduction of drama into politics by other means is no cause for celebration. It’s a very dim view of the world. If politics have already taken over every aspect of every human interaction and endeavor, then the big government agenda that the aides on the “The West Wing” proudly promoted has already become a reality. There should be more to life. There should be better on television.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @MelFoil

    Zealotry is the most boring type of passion, because it only goes one direction. There’s no suspense.

    • #1
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    @JonathanHorn

    There is a reason why political campaigns have to pay for commercials.

    Mel Foil: Zealotry is the most boring type of passion, because it only goes one direction. There’s no suspense. · 15 minutes ago

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    As a rule, politics on film should be avoided at all costs. The “creative community” lives up to its name, creating their own reality because they can’t deal with the one that actually exists.

    The only exception to this rule is the Yes, Minister sitcom from the BBC that was loved by Tories and Labour alike because it was so deadly accurate.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I tried watching The West Wing recently, and the only thing I found worthwhile was the insight it gave me into how the left see themselves: good and honorable and full of righteousness! And of course how they see conservatives: barely tolerable caricatures.

    • #4
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    @JohnnyDubya

    It’s a shame, because Sorkin is a good and intelligent writer.  Many of us could benefit from toning down the zealotry.  A friend of mine recently complained that every email I sent him contained some political tirade.  He was right.  It caused me to undergo a self-examination, and I was thankful. 

    People on the left such as Sorkin and Janeane Garofalo–their political ardor seems to take over their very being.  I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person.  On the conservative side, Andrew Breitbart was overly passionate and would have benefited from a little more moderation (certainly, his health would have benefited).

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JonathanHorn

    I have admired some of Sorkin’s past work, for example, The Social Network. But I also like believable characters who function as something more than just a mouthpiece for the writer.

    Kevin Walker: It’s a shame, because Sorkin is a good and intelligent writer.  Many of us could benefit from toning down the zealotry.  A friend of mine recently complained that every email I sent him contained some political tirade.  He was right.  It caused me to undergo a self-examination, and I was thankful. 

    People on the left such as Sorkin and Janeane Garofalo–their political ardor seems to take over their very being.  I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person.  On the conservative side, Andrew Breitbart was overly passionate and would have benefited from a little more moderation (certainly, his health would have benefited). · 24 minutes ago

    • #6
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    @KCMulville

    I was hoping the show might be like Columbo used to be. You already knew the crime, but the fun was in seeing how Columbo solved the mystery.

    With Sorkin, you already know what the result is going to be. You’re just hoping it’ll be fun to get there.

    It sounds as if the new show simply has Columbo arresting the suspect, with all the fun of going through Central Booking.

    • #7
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    @Larry3435

    I always thought the West Wing had some success in protraying both sides of the issues it took on, which is surprising since lefties usually do not understand conservative arguments and, in fact, are often unaware that good faith conservative arguments even exist.  Sometimes on West Wing, the conservatives even won the argument — on school choice for example.  By the way, Ainsley Hayes was a great character.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Regardless of political slant, am I the only one who thinks Newsroom just doesn’t look interesting? If Sorkin wasn’t attached the project, this is a bottom-of-the-barrel cable television drama. With Sorkin attached, its a self-righteous, self-indulgent bottom-of-the-barrel cable television drama.

    • #9
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    @BrianClendinen

    My favorite review was by John Powers from Vouge:

    “…..Although supposedly devoted to honest, truthful, old-fashioned news, Will quickly morphs into a version of Keith Olbermann, a prosecutorial anchor on the warpath against the Tea Party, whose members are all portrayed as dopes, dupes, or ignoramuses. The Newsroom makes clear that Will’s not merely in the right, but that any intelligent person knows he’s in the right, even ACN’s owner (Jane Fonda) who’s annoyed by what he’s saying but doesn’t deny its veracity. The show’s so riddled with disapproval toward those who watch Fox News, read the tabloids, or enjoy The Real Housewives of New Jersey that it reinforces the cliché of liberals, especially Hollywood liberals, as smug elitists who reflexively look down on anyone who doesn’t agree.  …..he’s created a show that replicates much of what it thinks it’s opposing. It’s partisan. It’s sermonizing. And it’s terrified that if it’s too brainy or complex the audience won’t find it entertaining. The Newsroom may think it’s grappling with the crisis in American culture, but in the end, it’s just another symptom.”
    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @PJ

    I’ll take this opportunity to recycle one of my favorite put-downs of all time.  At the Emmy Awards after the first season of 30 Rock (and after Sorkin’s similarly themed but hour-long Studio 60 had bombed), Tina Fey said:

    “Aaron Sorkin is wearing the same dress as me, only it’s twice as long and not funny.”

    • #11
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    @JonathanHorn

    You’re not alone. Boring is the word.

    Pat in Obamaland: Regardless of political slant, am I the only one who thinks Newsroom just doesn’t look interesting? If Sorkin wasn’t attached the project, this is a bottom-of-the-barrel cable television drama. With Sorkin attached, its a self-righteous, self-indulgent bottom-of-the-barrel cable television drama. · 8 hours ago

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @PeterGothgen

    My wife introduced me to Sports Night a few years back.  There’s the occasional heavy-handed episode, but for the most part it’s darn good television.  Sorkin does have great talent.

    He is also, however, the perfect illustration of one of Jonah’s main points in Tyranny of Clichés – the first lie that liberals tell themselves is that they’re not ideological.  Sorkin honestly believes that he doesn’t have any axes to grind.  This myopia is what is preventing his talent from reaching its’ potential.

    • #13

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