“A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what’s important; the death of [b—ness]; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we all come together.” [edited by reviewer]
So is the News Night program as described by its new executive producer McKenzie McHale, played by Emily Mortimer, in the first episode of Aaron Sorkin’s newest series The Newsroom. The first season of this politically savvy show follows news anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, and his team at the fictional Atlantis Cable News Service as they deal with some of the biggest news items of 2010-2011, including the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the rise of the Tea Party, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Against the backdrop of dramatic news stories and the quick-witted dialogue that Sorkin is known for, the interpersonal drama of the news team endears you to the characters as you watch them struggle and succeed in their relationships.
The thing I both loved about this show that also made me cringe on occasion is its idealism. As demonstrated by the quotation above, the News Night team tries to put together a program that elevates, civilizes, and informs its audience instead of pandering to ratings and entertainment value. The news, they claim, is just the thing needed to preserve democracy in America. While this sentiment is certainly stirring and inspirational, at times, the faith that McAvoy and his crew have in their own profession’s ability to restore decorum and intelligence to public discourse and improve the common weal comes across as naïve and simplistic. That said, The Newsroom is a fictional television show after all and the characters and story line are smart, witty, and thoroughly entertaining for anyone interested in current events and politics.
About the reviewer: Former TPL staff member Abby Shelton works for the American Philosophical Society. She enjoys reading (of course), history, enjoying the outdoors, and cooking new things.