HBO's The Newsroom goes behind-the-scenes of a nightly news program produced by a team of journalists desperate to turn the fluff-filled, audience-friendly show into something resembling the hard-hitting news of yester-year.
As any Sorkin fan (or detractor) can tell you, the man has a very specific writing style. And The Newsroom is just what one would expect from a Sorkin series -- equal parts preachy and earnest, with one tongue-twisting monologue after another. It's smart and sleek and full of characters who take their jobs very seriously. The show's vast ensemble is headed by Jeff Daniels as jaded news anchor Will McAvoy. When we meet Will in the pilot episode, he is down-right tired of pandering to his audience for ratings and just wants to get back to telling the actual, factual news. He yearns to inform the voting public of what they need to know, in its proper context.
Enter Emily Mortimer's Mackenzie McHale, a respected journalist fresh from the front lines, who is brought in as executive producer because she is the only person who can push Will to be the kind of journalist he wants to be. The relationship between McAvoy and McHale is saturated with drama and bad history, yet the two still make magic whenever they work together.
Joining Mackenzie in the newsroom is her senior producer, Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.). Gallagher Jr. has excellent on-screen chemistry with Alison Pill's Maggie Jordan, an intern turned assistant turned associate producer whose intelligence occasionally overpowers her lack of experience. That chemistry comes in handy as the show drives home a soap opera-esque plot involving Maggie's love life, as she engages in a somewhat tired love triangle with Jim and Will's mostly unlikeable former EP, Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski).
Sadly, when the drama cannot be found within the news stories the team covers, it's deeply-seated in the characters' romantic lives and so far, this has been the show's weakest point. As the above illustrates, the series' strongest draw is its talented cast and their ability to deliver Sorkin's sharp, lengthy dialogue.
The name Aaron Sorkin was certainly a lure for some viewers, including the brass at HBO who have already green-lit the series for a second season. That being said, Sorkin's style is not for everyone and those who did not care for his previous work will probably not enjoy his newest venture. Other viewers may have been turned off by the behind-the-scenes aspect to the series or the string of negative reviews that have popped up since the show's debut. Yet as a fan of Sorkin's previous television work and someone who believes The Newsroom tackles important topics about the way the news is delivered in today's society, I gave the show a chance and I suggest that anyone looking for topical, character-driven drama do the same.
HBO's The Newsroom airs Sunday nights at 10/9c.