In a rare moment of humility this week, Aaron Sorkin apologized… sort of. He said a few words to journalists who do the kind of work he portrays on The Newsroom, in an attempt to smooth over any misunderstandings about how he portrays their profession.
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Graduation season is fast approaching, the time of the year when some of our favorite writers are tasked with summing up the wisdom to be accrued from the process of growing up in ten succinct minutes of witty truth. These days, a successful graduation speech has the very real chance of going viral, and then living forever as a book: from David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life to Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art, the best graduation speeches are finding a new life. This crop includes the brand-new Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders, a pretty-in-print encapsulation of his 2013 Syracuse Graduation speech. It’s reason enough to collect 30 of the best, wisest, and pithiest pieces of advice from the greatest writers to attempt the graduation… Read More
Earlier this week, New York magazine’s Bilge Ebiri and David Edelstein ranked the top 25 romantic comedies that have come out since 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…, which, one could argue, set the standard for contemporary romantic comedies. Since every list of this sort inspires arguments and nitpicks, I thought I’d go ahead and take the bait. Here are 20 great films that were sadly… Read More
The Newsroom can’t catch a break. Season 2, a nine-episode block that wrapped up this Sunday, clearly tried to put the worst of Season 1 behind it, adding a season-long arc and taking the edge off the female hysteria. But somehow, the show still didn’t come together. The snappy dialogue was all there, as was the middlebrow elitism and all of the other guilty pleasure elements that can make watching an Aaron Sorkin show so fun. The problem is that even when Sorkin does what he does best, it’s still not enough to measure up to the shows that are its peers — namely, its fellow hour-long dramas on HBO and other prestige networks. In the Age of the Antihero, The Newsroom makes a few halfhearted attempts at unlikable protagonists and moral ambiguity, but it’s unable to follow through with them. And that’s why no matter how hard it tries, the show is doomed to fail (with the critics, at least).
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It’s just like The Newsroom to give us the happy ending we never actually wanted. While “Election Night: Part II” didn’t quite wave away our heroes’ problems with a magic wand, it came about as close to doing so as it possibly could, absolving everyone of their Genoa guilt while hurling together a few of the show’s long-teased romantic couples. But even though Sloan and Don’s big kiss managed to feel like a payoff, virtually everything else that went into tying off The Newsroom’s second season with a bow was a copout. Going into its third installment, this story has about as much suspense to it as the outcome of the two-year-old election it rehashes.
Here’s the problem with having Jane Fonda end an episode with a self-righteous monologue: she’ll sell the hell out of it, but that same self-righteousness is going to look twice as grating on everyone else. Which is how an otherwise fun election-night episode gets bogged down by endless self-flagellation on the part of the News Night higher-ups, who seem to be competing with each other for the title of Most Willing to Throw Self Under Bus. The Genoa fallout had to be taken care of eventually, but knowing that this is a Sorkin show and all of our protagonists are going to walk out of this more vindicated than ever sucks the suspense out of the situation.
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It’s rare for an episode of television that isn’t a premiere, a finale, or a pilot to represent its show as perfectly as “One Step Too Many” does The Newsroom. Among the Sorkin-verse tropes that came out to play were three of the most basic, and the most representative of the show’s strengths and weaknesses: strictly professional story lines good; personal life subplots bad; subplots involving women especially bad. Luckily, most of “One Step Too Many” was good ol’ fashioned story-chasing, proving that The Newsroom has a shot at being a solid piece of entertainment as long as it steers clear of love triangles and tossed drinks.
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The Newsroom is a lot of things. Preachy? Yeah. Smug? Sure. Infuriating? Obviously, that’s the entire premise of this recap. But boring? That’s the one thing I wasn’t expecting from TV’s most reliable hate-watch. Yet despite its gimmicky real-time pacing and a game changer for Will’s personal life, “News Night with Will McAvoy” felt oddly uneventful. Then again, almost anything would after spending half an episode in Africa.
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