REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 7 — “5/1”

So I took a little break from recapping for Passover and instead spent my days eating, sleeping, reading, and talking to friends and family while having no access to technology that runs on electricity. Yes, this includes internet and TV. Welcome to a life of being an observant Jew.

But I am back, y’all!



—   From the “Previously on” it looks like they’re continuing the death threat/bodyguard for Will storyline. Huzzah, continuity!

—   Some weirdo is “establishing his credibility as a source” on the phone to Charlie. Presumably he’s a source within the White House, but we shall see.

—   Will’s throwing a party in his apartment. But he is a misanthrope and why is he throwing this party exactly? Even he doesn’t know.

—   It’s the one-year anniversary of News Night, apparently. Time is weird on this show.

—   Will and Jim both play guitar, evidently. Because chicks dig guitar players.

—   Will is going to eat pot cookies. Scandalous. I predict slapstick will ensue.

—   Yup, he already ate way too many. Let’s watch him make a bigger fool of himself than usual, shall we?

—   Shocker, Maggie is spending time at the party with Jim instead of Don.

—   Lisa is already using the L-word to Jim when it’s obvious he doesn’t actually care about her? GAH SHOW. GAH.

—   The “I love you” is a recent thing, I see. Jim clearly doesn’t know how to say “I like/care about you, but I need more time to develop those kinds of feelings for someone” or “THE SHOW WANTS ME TO BE WITH MAGGIE, I HAVE NO CHOICE IN THIS MATTER!”

—   Maggie, he doesn’t have to break up with her just because the feelings are unequal. What they need to do is get on the same page about what each of them feels, and then decide if they want to break up. There is no blanket solution, Maggie. Go away.

—   The president is going to address the nation. I’ll go google what he talked about on May 1st 2011 . . . Oh, I see, it was Osama Bin Laden’s death. I remember everyone going crazy about it, but I always saw it as a symbolic victory rather than an actual substantial one. Is that ignorant or unpatriotic of me?

—   Will is totally stoned and should not be allowed out in public but of course he’s going out to work. THIS WILL END WELL.

—   Sloan, Don, and Elliot are trapped on a plane with no information about what this big news story is and Don is dying to find out what’s going on. A three minute scene and Sloan manages to be objectified at least three times. Woo.

—   Stoned Will and his bodyguard are stuck in traffic and Will is impatient. This is a recipe for disaster. And there he goes! Will has run away on foot.

—   Police are giving his bodyguard a rough time, presumably because he’s black.

—   In the newsroom, Mac is instructing everyone to pursue all leads other than Bin Laden, in case he’s not the story, which is very non-dramatic since I already know the story IS Bin Laden. I suppose this is meant to be dramatic irony, where viewers know something the characters don’t, but yawn.

—   Mac’s justification for trying to find the story before the president announces it: “America thinks Bin Laden is alive. If I can make him dead one minute sooner, my entire life in journalism will have been worth it.” Really, Mac? Really? You’ve had no other, much more useful accomplishments in your two-Peabody-award-winning career? Maybe I just really don’t get why this story was so huge. Or I just don’t get journalists.

—   Don is being a whiney baby. In other news, it seems to be really really difficult to get yourself thrown off a plane.

—   Will made it to the newsroom. Still totally stoned. And he’s stressing how important this night is. Again, the more they say it, the less it feels like such a big deal.

—   And the show cannot pass up an opportunity to mock FOX News for reporting that the story was Gaddafi, not Bin Laden.

—   Mac is going to let Will go on the air even though she knows he’s totally wasted. Drama drama drama.

—   Now Charlie is saying not to report it, even though they’ve got double-confirmation that it’s Bin Laden. He says there could theoretically be harmful effects on the military operation if it’s revealed too early. He has a point, but COULDN’T YOU HAVE SAID THAT SOONER??

—   Neal’s girlfriend doesn’t feel like celebrating because Bin Laden being dead doesn’t bring her dad back. Yes, Neal’s girlfriend, I totally agree with you. Symbolic victory, not substantial.

—   The minor news anchor is getting antsy and tried to report the story, so Mac cut her feed. Why don’t they just give her Charlie’s spiel about not wanting to endanger soldiers’ lives? She just doesn’t have that perspective, so TELL HER.

—   Maggie is still hassling Jim to break up with Lisa. Give it a rest, Maggie!

—   YES! YOU GO, LISA! She’s breaking up with Jim! HOORAY FOR SELF AWARENESS, DIGNITY, AND SELF-RESPECT! I feel ten times more celebratory about this than about the Bin Laden thing, because for once a woman got to make her own choices on this show instead of having her life dictated by the men around her. Too bad Lisa was completely underdeveloped as a character and we’ll probably never see her again.

—   She did it for MAGGIE?? UGH! No, Lisa, you do these things for yourself! Maggie’s a mess and you’re not responsible for her screwing up her relationships. This almost completely decimates the good opinion I had about Lisa in the previous bullet point. I feel very fickle right now. See what you’ve done to me, Sorkin? You’ve turned me into a fickle woman, just like the terrible female characters on this show.

—   Don’s still going nuts on the plane because he can’t be in the newsroom. Everyone’s started to get messages about the president speaking and no one knows what’s up, and Don tries to calm them down, but the prissy flight attendant won’t let him and gets the pilot.

—   Don has some kind of visceral reaction to the pilot’s uniform for some reason. Department of Backstory, where are you? Oh, I guess it was just because of the military connection to the Bin Laden story? Okay. Don reveals super dramatically that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and everyone hugs. Yay.

—   Jim grows a pair and is honest to Lisa for once and asks her out for real. Too bad this is doomed because Maggie and Jim are preordained.

—   Bodyguard finally catches up with Will, escorted by police. They are informed about Bin Laden in what is supposed to be another heartwarming moment.

—   Will is a friend of Joe Biden and got an email that the Bin Laden story is reportable, but he didn’t see it for 20 minutes because he’s stoned. Ha ha, so funny.

—   And a dramatic sappy speech by Will on the air to explain why this is such a huge victory.

—   Obama’s real speech is playing over the credits.



Final Thoughts:

This episode makes me feel like I have a heart of stone, because most of it depends on viewers having a strong emotional response to the fact that Bin Laden was killed. The whole episode revolves around how important that event is and how much it means to everyone who hears it. I remember when it happened, and I didn’t have much of an emotional response then, and I still don’t now.

I probably would if I had relatives in the military, or had lost someone on 9/11, but as a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 attacks but did not have a personal connection to them, I didn’t have a driving need to see Bin Laden dead. I mean, I didn’t want him alive and perpetuating more acts of terror, but I never equated his death with the end of terrorism or personal revenge, so it had significantly less of an emotional impact for me.

For once I had stronger reactions to the relationship drama of the episode, as documented above. Not good reactions, per se, but stronger. My basic complaint in that regard remains the same – the characters are frequently immature and unlikeable in regard to how they handle their romantic entanglements, which makes me not care about them, and the show is ham-fisted in its obviousness about who is supposed to end up with who, which makes me not care about all the intervening stuff because it’s clearly just stalling.


Rating: 3/5


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