There’s a lot of crap on television. In fact if I had the option I’m not sure my subscription plan would include more than 25 channels, at least 10 of whom would cater to my borderline unholy ice hockey, college football and soccer “addictions.” You may also recall my dismay at the state of discourse earlier this year (and yes, I watch “Sons of Anarchy.” No one’s perfect).
Of the other 15, HBO holds a place in my plan for as long as I hold cable due solely to its new show “The Newsroom.” Episode No. 4 aired Sunday evening and the emotional relationship between audience and characters has hit a multiple-season pace within those precious few hours of television.
The show follows the pivot pieces in a fictional newsroom that forms the backbone of Will McAvoy’s (Jeff Daniels) nightly news program. While there are moments of frustrating Bono-worthy dialogue and a clearly (and delightfully wistful) “Pam-and-Jim” subplot, it’s place in the current cultural environment should be paramount.
“The Newsroom” is threatening to throttle the stability of what we currently deem news media. I’m willing to risk rhetoric sacrilege by saying the show has the potential to be as moving and challenging as “The Wire” was to many opinions on the drug trade, education, government and law enforcement. In fact, David Simon’s completed drama — also on HBO — did a bit of flirty dalliance with the nature of news. I imagine he’d high-five much of what “The Newsroom” creator Aaron Sorkin is managing to do in the early episodes of his show.
Consider that “The Newsroom” is taking place inside of a political climate that the protagonist tells us “is as divided as its been since the Civil War” while grappling with issues that stifle honesty in many venues besides news media; Advertisers with political agendas, divided workplaces, defying where the money is (salacious crap), et cetera are all obstacles to “The Daily Show” ever being on CNN, MSNBC or FOX News (of course the latter would have its own issues with Jon Stewart’s program).
Yes, the show exists in the neighborhood of my chosen/preferred career field, but I’d like to think my enjoyment of “The Newsroom” isn’t nearly as shallow as my glee at seeing Harry Dunne doing my job on TV.
These characters are people behind the news. McAvoy is a declared Republican being lit up in the press for being a neo-liberal. His boss is an old school journalistic mind fending off the bullets aimed at his integrity by the almighty dollar. It’s capitalism getting in the way of capitalism and democracy getting in the way of democracy and it’s all so wonderful.
So, take those four episodes. The second one isn’t phenomenal but No. 1 is great, No. 3 is near-perfect and No.4 is pretty good with a final 10 minutes that could very well pry your tear ducts open.
Do I promise you’ll love it? Of course not, but I do promise that you’ll be able to come away from it with an appreciation for what goes into deciding what hits your eyes on the TV screen. It’s real… and I’m not talking housewives.
Don’t believe me? Ask Dan Rather.