Stop Making me cry Aaron Sorkin or Why The Hell Aren’t You Watching The Newsroom

6 Aug

I spent the weekend watching Aaron Sorkin’s new show on HBO, The Newsroom. I have been watching every week, but something made me sit and watch all 6 episodes back to back twice, once on Saturday and again on Sunday. I capped off my weekend with last night’s new episode, the superb “5/1”.

I am going to admit right up front I am a huge Sorkin fan, from West Wing to Moneyball, he is an immensely talented writer, and I don’t care if he preaches to me, or educates me.  The beauty of The West Wing all those years ago was it taught us, it made us think about the world we lived in, the society in which we all take part.

Just like West Wing, The Newsroom is both educational and entertaining, it is made up of characters that are fleshed out, characters that are deeply flawed and endearing. Sorkin has assembled an outstanding cast lead by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterston.

Three of the seven episodes that have aired so far have left me in a puddle of tears at the end. The first, “I’ll Fix You” dealt with the shooting of Gabby Giffords, next “Amen” and finally last night’s “5/1”. 

“5/1” was the best Newsroom so far, set against the backdrop of the night we killed Osama Bin Laden, the episode furthered the Jim/Maggie relationship, introduced a really interesting plot point about TMI and provided a cautionary tale about mixing Vicodin and weed. 

The episode opens at a party in Will’s apartment, the Newsroom gang has gathered to celebrate Newsnight’s 1 year and 1 week anniversary.  Charlie (Sam Waterston) gets a call from an anonymous source telling him he will get a call from the White House Press Secretary later in the evening.  The purpose of this call is to establish the anonymous source’s credibility, the source has a much bigger story to tell Charlie and he needs to make sure Charlie will believe him.   As the audience we all know that the party will be over soon, everyone will hae to head into the office to get ready for the President’s address. Until then we get enjoy some interesting scenes of the team interacting in a social setting.

We are treated to Jeff Daniels and Jim Gallagher showing off their musical talents (both accomplished singer/musicians) on a duet of “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”.   Next up, Maggie over hears Lisa telling Jim she loves him, which prompts Maggie to tell Jim if he doesn’t love her he should break it off.  I wonder how long it will take for Jim and Maggie to get together? Will there be the big kiss in the finale, we all know the big Don/Maggie break up is coming, or is Don going to propose in a last ditch effort to keep her.  Is a Don/Sloane pairing on the horizon?

Speaking of Don and Sloane, they spend the entire episode, along with Elliot trapped on the tarmac at La Guardia airport. As usual Don is freaking and pisses off the flight attendant, even though it is a bit contrived and his “bad passenger” behavior is actually a set up for the big reveal at the end it works.  Because it’s Don and being bugged eyed and freaking is what he does best.

Another bit of business that I found rather humorous was Will being high. It raised an interesting question, I wonder how many times that has happened in real life. I can’t imagine every anchor is sober 24 hrs a day, isn’t it possible one of more had a few too many an then went on the air because there was no way they were going to miss out on a huge story. 

What I liked most about the episode was Sorkin found a way to weave in representatives from the groups hit the hardest on 9/11. The airlines, NYPD and Fire, and the workers from the twin towers. When each found out that Bin Laden was killed it brought home the reason why we should have never given up the hunt for Bin Laden under Bush.  The people who died, the thousands who were affected, those people deserved the justice his death brought. Sorry, but I just couldn’t turn the other cheek on this one.

The moment when Don told the pilot on his flight, a United flight, was when I started crying and didn’t stop until the credits. That moment took me back to 9/11 and the week of endless news, culminating in the service at the National Cathedral in Washington on Friday. I remember a country united, and now a decade later we are country as divided as we were during the civil war. What happened to us?

That is what Newsroom asks, in its pilot Will says “we aren’t the greatest country, but we can be again”.

How do we get back there?

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