Monday, August 5, 2013

The Four Reasons People Actually Dislike The Newsroom (A Semi-Serious List)

I’ve been thinking about The Newsroom lately, perhaps because it’s one of the only shows I watch that’s currently airing new episodes. Lots of people deeply, deeply dislike The Newsroom. They have lots of reasons for their hate: it’s kind of pompous, it’s kind of sexist, the characters never do anything wrong, and using old news stories gives Aaron Sorkin 20/20 hindsight that he uses to make his characters seem better and right all the time.

Now, I like The Newsroom. And honestly, I think the complaint about using real-world news stories is kind of weak. (You think Aaron Sorkin has less insider knowledge about the outcome of news stories he made up? The West Wing was no less an indictment of real-world cynical politicians just because it didn’t use real-world political scandals.) But I do acknowledge it has faults, pompousness and sexism among them. On the other hand, those faults have been present in just about everything Sorkin has ever written, and while there are plenty of people who will complain about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, that’s just not the case with, for instance, The West Wing.

So, why do people really dislike The Newsroom? I thought it over for a bit and came up with a few ideas. So here they are—the four reasons people really dislike The Newsroom:
  1. The Music

    I’m sorry, but the score is just wrong. Wrong wrong wrong all the time. It’s overdramatic and kind of slow and always gets the tone of the scene wrong. Even when it’s a funny scene (and there are lots of funny scenes!) the score just kind of keeps going on, like, “THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS JOB IN THE WORLD.” It’s not bad music! It’s just that it’s wrong in every way.

  2. The Pacing

    Let me be clear, here. I don’t mean the pacing of the narrative, though that could probably be tuned up as well. I’m talking about the pacing of the dialogue. You remember Sports NightThe West Wing, and even Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? You remember what made them enjoyable to watch? Everyone talked so fast! It meant you could fit like 30 jokes into a scene about the census. The characters on The Newsroom (with one exception, who I’ll get to later) just talk so slow.

    Plus, and I realize I already kind of made this point but I think it’s worth repeating, there are lots of jokes on The Newsroom. Unfortunately, the direction, music, and editing all just kind of ignore them.

  3. Maggie and Fucking Jim

    Fuuuuuuuuck Maggie and Jim.

  4. The General Lack of Sloan Sabbath

    Sloan Sabbath is far and away the best character on The Newsroom. She’s the funniest (and the show actually acknowledges when she’s funny), she’s the coolest, she’s the least annoying, and she doesn’t have a direct parallel in any other Sorkin show. So of course, she appears in about three minutes out of every sixty-minute episode. I hesitate to say that Sloan should have more storylines, because storylines are where Aaron Sorkin tends to go wrong with his characters (see again: Maggie and Fucking Jim), so let’s just say she should have more screentime. Way more screentime.

And that's all, really. Having read this list, I hope that you can now go forward, better informed about yourself and your reactions to The Newsroom, and appreciate the show on its own true merits.

(That is to say, Sloan Sabbath.)


  1. Well, for me, talk a little bit slow just make the character more real, I mean since Sorkin use news happened in the reality, it's very wise to make the character say the line in a normal way.

    1. The second point is really where the "semi" part of my semi-serious list kicks in. I love the fast pace of the dialogue in Sorkin's earlier shows, but I also know others don't--in fact, I have a friend who simply can't watch The West Wing because the pace of the dialogue is so off-putting for her.

      Thank you for reading, by the way!

  2. I'm extremely embarrassed by my ignorance but is the mayor news story of the second season the one about an american attack with chemical weapons a real world news?

    1. No, it's not real--and in fact (as the show just revealed)--it's not even a true story within the context of the show's world. It's based on the Operation Tailwind controversy on CNN in 1998.