Newsroom: Season 1, Episode 1: “We Just Decided To”

So I decided to try a TV episode thing. I have no idea if it will last but I decided to go back through the episodes of the Newsroom and share my comments. I should be clear that I really like Sorkin and his work and have spent time in newsrooms. I do have some problems with it but these text analysis will probably be more harsh than I really feel.

The two talking heads being… well … talking heads: Can we admit that a lot of our politicians and their politics are socialist? People throw out the words “socialist” and “communist” as if there is something inherently wrong from taking ideas from either of these and using them.

If we could stop treating all these labels as pure insults then maybe we could have a more civilized discussion.

“I consider myself a New York Jets fan” Will McAvoy: This says more about Will’s character than any other one piece of dialogue. I am a firm believer that (especially in cities with multiple sports teams) that the team you root for can say a lot about a person.

Expanding this further, this takes place in 2010 when the Jets made the AFC tittle game for the second time. Rex Ryan was in full bluster mode and many believed (now completely foolishly) that the Jets and Mark Sanchez would soon become a dynasty.

I will probably get back to this later (and could write several hundred more words on the topic of McAvoy as a Jets fan) but will get back to the episode.

Jenny’s question: “Can you say in one sentence or less – what – (laughing in background) you know what I mean: “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”

The absurdity of the question is not about the “one sentence or less” thing considering that the first two answers were not complete sentences.

The question probably should have been phrased this way: Is America the greatest country in the world? If so, why? If not how can we get there? (Or: who is the greatest country in the world and why?)

I would suggest reading “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness we never weren’t” by Stephen Colbert because it pretty much addresses the question in a much funnier way than I could.

“And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy. Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science. Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality. Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

“Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?” McAvoy

Whoa, that’s pretty meaty. Tell us how you really feel?

Look, as in most arguments, this eventually comes down into a question of defining terms. In this case, what do you mean by “great”?

What does believing in angels or median household income have to do with greatness?

Also has “Sorority Girl” become an insult? I wasn’t aware of this development but should certainly be kept appraised on new developments.

As for the whole worst generation ever: This generation Will is talking about hasn’t had a shot of doing anything yet. This generation hasn’t had a shot at power yet and it is incredibly idiotic to say that they are the best or worst at ANYTHING. History will be the judge and they haven’t even started yet.

Here is the problem with talking heads: they just state opinions and (sometimes) will say random things (including quotes or statistics). The quotes and stats can’t stand on their own: you need to prove what you are saying.

Just pulling a Churchill or Lincoln quote doesn’t make your opinions any better. Our greatest leaders were still wrong a lot, and please stop quoting them out of context… it makes you look stupid.

“Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right.” McAvoy: I went through his whole rant three times and I have no idea when he is talking about. It is my belief that everything hasn’t changed that much.

Finally we get to the regular show:

“I’m making a dumb decision out of loyalty. You’re making a smart one out of ambition.” Maggie Jordan:

Seriously, ambition vs. loyalty? Ambition has been kicking loyalty’s ass since Caesar.

An empty and completely quite newsroom is a very scary and completely unnerving and I don’t really think they completely captured it.

“Simply put, you’re a smart, talented guy who isn’t very nice. And the countdown to your retirement from relevance began the minute you called conservatives idiots and liberals losers.” Don Keefer:

This really describes a whole bunch of people. A lot of smart people really don’t understand how to motivate people and how to lead. Niceness and friendliness are quite a bit more important in a boss than intelligence. A manager and leader has to settle disputes, fire up the staff and be able to get things done.

“I’m a Marine, Don, I will beat the shit out of you no matter how many protein bars you eat!” Charlie Skinner:

There is pretty much no chance in hell that a network executive could threaten employees and still have a job in this day and age. The fact that it seems as if Charlie does this regularly is absurd. However, it’s really funny and I love him as a character.

Drinking at lunch? What newsroom allows this? I’m sending my application soon.

MacKenzie McHale’s sense of humor is completely typical of a newsroom and I love it. People need more dry humor and sarcasm in their lives and on TV.

Mac and Jim Harper are absolutely awesome. Sadly these relationship advice conversations don’t seem to happen in real newsrooms as on TV. Damn shame, I guess that whole people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones thing.

“Do you know how to flirt?” Mac to Jim: why in the hell would you ever answer yes? Seriously, you are getting a front-row ticket into the crazy recesses of the female mind and you are trying to scalp those tickets! Also you are probably wrong.

I think that smoking in these offices would be allowed, even if you were the star anchor.

This cast was able to figure out the oil spin thing in absolutely no time. This is really incredible and why isn’t anybody calling writers?

Even if they don’t have a print publication they should have a website or a newsdesk and shit should be going down. The show is on at night! News is continuous and a web story would need to be up and running.

These guys would need to call the TV people currently on the air and the web people. They could not wait to break the story on their night show.

“I’ve come here to take your IQ and your talent and put it to some patriotic fucking use!” Mac to Will:

His job is not to be patriotic. If he truly is going to be unbiased the patriotism should not be a factor.

Interesting sidebar question: is informing a million people for 20 min better than informing 100 people for 60? I don’t actually have an answer but it’s a question worth posing.

I will also point out that the polarization of America does not directly mean that news won’t be popular.

Journalism as an honorable profession: I would say that no profession is really thought of as honorable. Maybe the military but even that is debatable. I don’t think a job should ever make someone “honorable.”

“I have a blog?” Will: This is 2010 not 1995 the Internet was already big. It’s pretty fucking stupid.

Also if we are getting two anonymous sources you still should get one more to confirm (and preferably get someone to go on the record).

This is also a story that probably could use legal expertise but I understand that doing that isn’t sexy.

“Let’s make that (being an elite Northeastern prick) sexy again” Mac. Ugh, being elite or a prick seem to be ever popular. Also I don’t think we can call all the Kennedy’s sexy… counterexample: Ted.

I absolutely hate having a newsroom in the background. If I’m in that background I’m either just acting/doing stuff for TV or actually doing work and it looks awful. When people are focused on working it doesn’t look good. Having people in the background watching the show on TVs wouldn’t come off well.

Why have interviews either become lobbing softballs or cross-examining? Can’t we have something in between?

“I’m taking you shopping!” Mac to Maggie: See this never happens with guys. Someone does an awesome job on breaking news and nobody says: I’m taking you to a sporting event. To be frank, I have never heard this statement in a real newsroom and I’m sure if I did it would be followed with a ton of laughter.

“I’m to old to be governed by fear of dumb people” Charlie: I can’t wait to be that old.

“I shouldn’t say things” Jim. I think everyone has thought this at one point or another.

Will talking about beer and baseball makes me miss baseball so much. Also, who the fuck gets drunk off three beers!?! One of them was British! Step it up guys.

Overall, a pretty good pilot and pure Sorkin… thanks for making it through this really long post, I have no idea how this will continue if I keep writing this much for every episode.

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~ by realfactsandbeer on December 29, 2012.

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