Last night after watching the pilot episode of ‘The Newsroom’ on HBO, I updated a status to Facebook: “Any show that makes an oblique reference to ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is a show worth watching, in my book.”
This caused me to think — why do we say “in my book,” as if we are actually writing a book of our thoughts and opinions to share with the general populace? It doesn’t make much sense. It does, however, provide an excuse for a blog entry with a saccharin heading and category. Onward!
‘The Newsroom’ on HBO had one of the finest pilots that I’ve seen in recent memory last night (6.24). Aaron Sorkin, who is the show’s creator, is no stranger to politically infused primetime drama through proof of the smash show, ‘The West Wing.’
‘The West Wing’ inspired a generation of individuals to engage in a confusing and distancing political process through its depiction of hope in government. While it was, clearly, liberal wish-fulfillment, it was done exceedingly well.
‘The Newsroom’ begins a story set a few years in the past — a move that allows the show to become falsely prophetic. The pilot episode’s drama centered around the BP oil spill two years ago and how the news of the disaster was portrayed to the public.
Jeff Daniels (who plays cable anchor Will McAvoy) creates a character who is striving to break out of the polarized culture of broadcast journalism in an effort to create a news program like the good ol’ days.
While the effort is admirable, the notion that the nation needs news like it was in the past reeks of sentimentalism. “The good ol’ days” of broadcast journalism? I doubt that the individuals who viewed and created television news during the middle of the 20th century thought that they were in the literal prime-time of the genre.
That said, it is abundantly clear that there is a problem with the news media today. ‘The Newsroom’ is a fictional reaction to the polar opposite and dysfunctional networks of Fox and CNN. While it tries to play the middle of the road, it is clear that Sorkin is, again, promoting a liberal agenda within the series. Does this create a disconnect between the message of moderation with the juxtaposition of liberal ideology? It does not.
As the perceived “center” of political discussion in this country is, at the moment, to the right, a shift to the perceived left in ‘The Newsroom’ is really nothing more than a return to the original center. We are expected to engage — to discuss. We must question authority while we pay respect to it. To do so is not to become a Democrat or Indepedent — it is to become an informed citizen.
Hopefully, ‘The Newsroom’ continues forward with its strong message and stellar acting as the season progresses. I know I’ll be watching.