Created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin, THE NEWSROOM is a three-season drama series about the employees at the fictional Atantis Cable News (ACN) network. I caught the first two seasons, and I’m about to devour the third. This is brilliant, cutting-edge storytelling by a master storyteller.
Among the ensemble cast are notably Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), a news anchor many have compared to Keith Olbermann; his idealist executive producer and ex MacKenzie (the incredibly foxy Emily Mortimer); and various producers and reporters.
Season 1 starts with McAvoy, an amiable centrist participating in a public political discussion at a university, exploding how both the extreme right and left in America are ridiculous, which lands him in hot water. McAvoy doesn’t want to rock the boat, banking on his reputation of not offending anyone to keep viewers and his position. When his boss hires MacKenzie, he begins to embrace risk to use his position to accomplish something good, which is telling the truth.
In season 2, a huge exclusive story lands on the network, which they vet to the nth degree but discover they got completely wrong, wrecking their credibility.
Sorkin’s characterization and brilliant, lightning-quick dialogue, and tense pacing make the show a joy to watch, but I mostly stayed for the great ideas and an inside like at some important media issues. As with Sorkin’s THE WEST WING, this is primarily a story about work, with the interpersonal drama being the icing on the cake. In THE NEWSROOM, the journalists are presented with respect rather than adoration, and we get a lot of behind-the-scenes situations where telling the truth is neither profitable nor wanted by viewers. After watching two seasons, I don’t know whether I had more hope or less for the fourth estate to do its job as democracy’s watchdog.