"The Newsroom" Pilot Review: Sorkin's Politics Hinder Show's Ambition

First things first: I am not a Republican. I am a conservative Libertarian that often looks at both the Democratic and Republican Parties in pure disdain. I believe the political discourse is usually way off course in America and television news is 100% biased. I should've been the perfect audience for a show like "The Newsroom." After watching the pilot, however, I realize that I am not.

The show centers on a character named Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). He is known as the "Jay Leno of newscasters" because he never takes a stance on an issue and never offends anyone. He inevitably has a bit of a mental breakdown at a college speaking event and mentally dismantles a harmless college sophomore asking why America is the greatest country in the world. After taking a brief vacation, McAvoy returns to the news and is convinced by his ex- girlfriend/ new executive producer to produce a new kind of news show; one that harkens back to the news reporting days of men like Edward R. Murrow. 

The show tries to pitch itself as middle of the road. Will is supposed to be a registered Republican that sees both the Left and the Right as the villains. Such a show would've been brilliant: a show about a culture warrior fighting for common sense amongst the usual crap spewed by most news commentators of today. However, what prevents the show from reaching such heights is its very creator: Mr. Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin has the right set up for such a show and he certainly has the writing talent to make such a show informative and entertaining, but what holds the show back is Mr. Sorkin's politics. To be more exact: his left wing politics.

The pilot begins with Will at the previously mentioned college speaking event. During his little breakdown, he attacks both the conservative commentator and the liberal commentator sitting on either side of him. The only issue with this is the fact that Will's biggest argument for liberals is that they lose too much.

In fact, McAvoy is given many speeches during the show where he goes off on the uninformed Americans of today, but he doesn't seem to feel anyone but the Right is uninformed. He takes shots at both the Tea Party and James O'Keefe (neither of which make much sense), but his only comment for the Left remains that they happen to lose too much.

"The Newsroom's" heart is in the right place, but it can't seem to follow its own rules. It tries to paint itself as a show that will exemplify the unbiased and common sense reporting that news should be, but the show dips so far to the left that it begins playing the same partisan games that it originally wanted to fight against.

The show wants to be for everybody, but it's really just for Sorkin's liberal friends. The show probably should've put someone else at the helm that was a little less politically motivated than Sorkin (although he does write conversations like no other person working in Hollywood today). Yet, we know such a show can be done with a politically motivated mind behind it. Take "Boss" for example. The show stars and is executive produced by outspoken conservative Kelsey Grammer. But, he never uses the show as a platform to preach his almighty word. He takes a step back and provides a truly thoughtful and entertaining show that criticizes the political machine in general without biasing itself to one side. "The Newsroom" accomplishes no such thing. The temptation must’ve simply been too much for Mr. Sorkin.

It's a shame the show becomes so partisan. It had a great conceit, the cast is exceptional (especially Daniels), the show looks convincing (the pilot is shot by Greg Mottola) and the writing is phenomenal (no surprise there). But, "The Newsroom" simply adds nothing to the conversation and brings nothing to the table. It says it's above partisan like programming, but plays the same game it criticizes. The show's middle of the road politics are about as phony as Will McAvoy's voter registration card.


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