‘The Newsroom’ Knows Santa Has Nine Reindeer


So Genoa finally comes to the forefront of The Newsroom.

The opening scene of this episode neatly recaps all the scattered scenes that have mentioned the Sarin gas story so far this season. The tweets, the guy that met with Mac and Jerry in the coffee shop, Charlie’s spy buddy…the Red Team gets to hear it all fresh, and so do we. I realize this tactic is a little network television and doesn’t encourage dedicated viewing (which is unlike HBO), but Genoa has been so all over the place all season that it was nice to have all the information in one place.

groupshotIf you’re a nerd like me and watch Aaron Sorkin’s little explanation clip after every episode, you know that the whole Genoa storyline was adapted from a 1998 CNN report known as “The Valley of Death.” The doctored footage and the multiple sources confirming accuracy that exist on News Night also happened in the CNN story.

The problem with The Newsroom has always been its unwillingness to let its characters be wrong. If anyone has seen House of Cards, you’ll remember the scene in which Frank (Kevin Spacey) goes on a cable show to debate an opponent. As a viewer, we expected him to kill it and humiliate his opponent, but his cockiness made him the butt of the joke (and some YouTube remixes).

The Newsroom (and Aaron Sorkin) would never attempt something similar with its characters. For a direct example, let’s look at Will’s foray into morning television this week. At the advice of his girlfriend Nina Howard, Will appears on ACN’s morning show to appear more likable but just ends up confirming what a crank he is. He’s petulant and childish, but Sorkin paints him as the victim of Nina’s meddling. Who needs to be warm and relatable when you can be righteous and arrogant?

Look, I am this show’s biggest supporter. I’m always standing up for it–pointlessly arguing in both comments sections and reality alike. But when you have an episode where Mac knocks over trash cans with a rental car for no reason (because women are bad drivers, get it?), I have to put my foot down.

Hamish Linklater as Jerry Dantana.

Hamish Linklater as Jerry Dantana.

I think Sorkin was smart to write in a story about how the reporters are fallible. But the problem remains that he wasn’t capable of making his own reporters fallible. He brought in the completely unlikeable and overzealous side character of Jerry Dantana rather than having one of his own doctor the tape. There is no complexity to this issue. Jerry is wrong and all of the other crusaders of News Night are right. There is no courage in this storyline, even if it is more interesting than last season.

In other news, Jim and Hallie are still dating, which consists of excited Skyping and 90 minutes of discretionary activities in a very expensive, very candlelit hotel suite. I’m glad we get to see Grace Gummer again, but she and her character must both know they’re doomed if Jim pauses on their way to the hotel suite to check in on his ex-Sex and the City bus paramour.

Don and Sloan didn’t get a scene together after last week’s heart to heart, but Don is very insecure about her date with a Giant’s player and confides in Mac (“Do all guys think like this?”). Sloan herself still gets to be awesome when she plays little sister to Will’s grouchy older brother. “I love you, Will,” she tells him on her way out of his office. “Thanks, sis.” Aww.

I will watch this show until the end. I know I will. But this was not its finest hour.


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