REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 3 — “The 112th Congress”

Time for another episode of The Newsroom! What I expect: More characters behaving unprofessionally and moralistically. Let’s see if I’m right!


—   Looks like this ep is about the 9/11 hearings?

—   Wait, no, Will’s just using that as a lead-in to his grand apology for misusing his media influence.

—   He says other journalists don’t owe the public an apology, just him, and then proceeds to slam the entire industry for its various sins. Not sure how those two things can both be true, Will, since other journalists are kind of inextricably part of the entire media industry. Sounds like you just want to make yourself look better than everyone else.

—   And now he blames Congress and advertisers! Always a safe target!

—   “Who are we to make these decisions [about what’s important for the public to know]? We are the media elite.” Will, hate to break it to you, but that’s not an answer. Um, like, at all.

—   Charlie, go home, you’re drunk.

—   The recapper at the Huffington Post points out that Will’s mission statement is hardly any different from other actual current cable newspeople. Which is probably another reason why this show bores me — it has an inflated sense of its own importance.

—   So apparently this episode is REALLY about the Times Square Bombing attempt and how it should have been reported, ie, the “boring version of the story,” as Mackenzie says. Again, benefit of hindsight renders this kind of hollow and preachy.

—   Maggie’s pointing out exactly what this post pointed out at the time — that the guy who alerted police was a Muslim immigrant, because it doesn’t fit with the “sensationalist narrative.”

—   We learn that ratings tanked after they reported boringly about this. And that Will still magically doesn’t care about ratings anymore.

—   Now Will’s criticizing the Tea Party for being radical and extreme. I’m really not politically inclined, but I’ve heard this MANY MANY times. It’s hardly new ground but the show acts like it is.

—   Will is a Republican? When did that happen?

—   And now we learn that Will was a prosecutor before he got into media. And that he was a wunderkind who graduated college at 19. Because we needed to build him up in more mythic proportions than he already is.

—   The American public needs a lawyer, eh, Charlie. Because most of us are too stupid to figure these things out ourselves.

—   Oh, blech. Now we’re back to Will/Mackenzie relationship drama.

—   Mackenzie, you have absolutely no subtlety or control over your reactions to this lady Will’s dating. You’re supposed to be a journalist — you should at least have a decent pokerface.


—   lol Will’s a manwhore. I don’t even care.

—   The show keeps going after politicians I do not care about. Why is there no focus whatsoever on good policies, only on shooting down OBVIOUSLY flawed ones?

—   Oh, here we go. A sane person ousted from congress for being sane and not radical enough. Too bad he’s FICTIONAL. Couldn’t you find a real person, show? Or does this not actually happen because politics are more complicated than you make them out to be?

—   Charlie is blatantly lying to Will about the network’s reaction to the show. Does Will actually trust Charlie that much?

—   So Will’s skewering the Tea Party for having funding not from “the people.” Interesting to know, but very old news by now, obviously.

—   Maggie is acting weirder than usual. Do I care why? Not really. I bet she’s pregnant.

—   Oh, she has panic attacks? This is new. Why couldn’t Jim be the one with panic attacks? Would make him more interesting and wouldn’t make him look like a weak woman, which is what it does for Maggie. And why does he know about how to deal with this? Is he a secret therapist? Ah, army experience.

—   It’s obvious that Jim is a better guy for Maggie than Don is. There’s very little drama to be mined from this.

—   Election night in a year where there’s no presidential election! Super exciting! Not. Republicans win the congressional majority. Show doesn’t clarify if it thinks this is good or bad.


—   This Leona lady is clearly supposed to be fabulous and charismatic, and Jane Fonda’s doing her best, but that golf joke was just lame. And besides — WHO THE HECK IS SHE? Did I miss something?

—   Ah, I see. She’s the voice of corporate pressure and how the news has to abide by the rules of the game and not tick off the wrong people if it wants to continue existing. Because the Koch brothers would squish them like a bug.

—   Seriously, Charlie just compared Michele Bachmann to Joe McCarthy. So much for not cultivating a culture of fear, show! Good job!

—   And Charlie is still lying to Will, even though Leona has been clear that this will get Will fired. Good friend points, Charlie.



Final thoughts:

This episode was by far the most political of the three I’ve seen. There was a lot of talk about particulars, and particular people, and particular politicians, some of whom were real, some of whom were fake. I felt compelled to look up a bunch of things to verify, so in that department, the show is accomplishing its mission — I’m a little bit more educated about the Tea Party than I was before.

The problems I had with this episode, aside from the love triangles which I don’t care about at all, was that it’s all old news. Clearly that’s built into the premise, since it’s taking place in 2010, but I failed to feel a sense of urgency about any of it, because I knew that whatever was going to happen in the show had already happened in a world where News Night does not exist, so News Night’s impact, despite all the posturing and declarations of its own importance, had to be minimal.

Additionally, the Tea Party is such an easy target that watching it get called out on its garbage is hardly satisfying or interesting anymore, and that was a giant chunk of the episode.

Rating: 3/5


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