Shall I just come out and say it? Last night’s season finale episode of The Newsroom was a mess. An incoherent jumble of professional and personal storylines that never meshed and ended up overpowering any actual good TV that we might have witnessed. So I guess, in the end, the finale was a pretty good representation of how I’ve felt about this season as a whole.
I’ve had mixed feelings about The Newsroom. I like some episodes and storylines, I’ve hated others. I’ve had a lot of problems with how much Aaron Sorkin seems to hate the Internet and women. But there have been things I’ve loved, which is why I keep watching. But “The Greater Fool” was hard to watch.
My biggest problems were the timeline and the intertwining of the newsroom and personal storylines. The jumping back and forth in time made the episode feel tiresome, and the narrative screeched to an awkward halt every time we were forced to sit through more material on how certain people should be together, but aren’t because no one on this show is ever honest or mature about their feelings.
August 8, 2011
We begin on August 8th, 2011. Will is doing the news. Someone called Dorothy Cooper is more important than all of these important news stories! How bold of them to say! But who the hell is she? Cut to…
Eight Days Earlier
We drop back to eight days earlier, when Will was taken to the hospital because of an ulcer, which resulted from taking too many anti-depressents. Sigh. Is Will really that miserable? I don’t think this was developed enough to be believable.
Back to August 8th!
Dorothy Cooper is a woman who will be unable to vote thanks to new, ludicrous voter ID laws in Tennessee, as well as other states. In announcing how the whole thing was a Republican scam, Will announced that he is a Republican. This is supposed to be surprising not because newsmen aren’t supposed to announce such things, but because both the fictional show of News Night and the actual show of The Newsroom skew so very Democratic in order to make people like me feel smart and validated.
Seven Days Earlier!
So this is now the day after Will was hospitalized. Are you keeping up? MacKenzie’s ex-boyfriend wrote a terribly unflattering article about Will, and that’s why he’s so blue. He said he probably wasn’t coming back to the news, but thanks to all the time jumping we all know this isn’t true.
Things get worse – Nina, the Terrible Tabloid Tramp, knew Will was high on air the day he reported that bin Laden had been killed. She actually didn’t want to write the story, but would have to if she got a second source.
The TMI phone hacking storyline is really dragging things down. There are too many balls in the air, and I should have been sadder when I found out that the source Charlie considered too unreliable ended up killing himself. The “Call your parents once in a while, it’s really not that hard,” tugged at my heartstrings, but that wasn’t the point of the storyline.
And one of those many balls that should be dropped? The Don/Maggie/Jim/Sloane storyline. I didn’t want Don to ask Maggie to move in with him because their relationship is draining the life out of this show. I don’t want Don to be with Sloane because she’s better than him, and because we’ve never been given any reason to think that the two of them would work together, and that includes the scene were she possibly professed her love for him. Where there should have been chemistry, there was zero emotion and awkward background music. The worst.
Back to August 8th, but no subtitle in case you’re confused…
Now Will is on the air, talking about how he’s a “RINO”. What? But Will is in the hospital. Nope, just another time jump I guess. We’re back to August 8th. This episode is exhausting.
Four days earlier…still keeping track?
We learn that Will’s mean nurse’s great-aunt is Dorothy Cooper, and she wants to see the voter ID story on the news. And she wants to see it now, damn it.
But there is something more important than the voter ID story – Will’s personal reputation! He left a voicemail for Mac the night bin Laden was killed, revealing he was high. Mac never got the message because, obvs, the phone was hacked and the amateur doing so deleted the message. TMI’s source was Will himself, but they need a second source because they can’t reveal that the first source was highly illegal. Then Will jumped out of his hospital bed to report on Dorothy Cooper, to the tune of “Baba O’Reilly”, because the two things are somehow completely attached.
I really would have preferred to continue watching the gang put together the greatest ‘newscast’ (opinion piece) ever, rather than cutting to a boring personal discussion between Maggie and Lisa. Thankfully, it all led to a pretty hilarious Sex and the City rant, and Jim was on the stupid tour bus. I still might not care about their relationship much, but at least that made me laugh. They kissed, and all the ‘shippers swooned only to have their hearts broken again within minutes.
Hello Again, August 8th
Now we’re back to Will’s anti-Tea Party rant, which concludes with a photo of Jesus Christ as the greatest threat to American politics, or government, or whatever. You’d think THIS would lead to hundreds more death threats, but no, that had something to do with Neal and Internet trolls.
Is it August 4th now?
Maggie goes to break up with Don, and he asks her to move in with him. This shouldn’t be as difficult as they’re making it! Why is Maggie so dumb? I want her to be smarter. I need her to be smarter.
Leona Lansing knows that Will was high on air, because of phone hacking. Will admits it, and she fires him. Charlie accuses Leona’s son Rhys of phone hacking, he eventually admits that, and mommy is mad. And of course, they were recording the conversation! God, this is WAY too easy. There is no way this issue would be resolved so easily. Charlie says “Let’s do the news, you and me.” And the answer is basically, “Gee, OK!” How villainous. No one even has to call a lawyer.
OK, back to the news broadcast. After a brief, annoying interlude where Mac asked Will more questions about their love life, Will made a very convincing argument that the Tea Party is the American Taliban. I agreed with everything he said, because Aaron Sorkin wants me to feel good about myself and my smart, informed political views. But let’s get real, folks, there wasn’t an ounce of actual news in that broadcast and just like Fox News or MSNBC, the only people watching would be those who already agree.
Sloane was supposed to be quitting but decided to stay, which made her relationship with Don rather awkward. Why did they have to go an ruin Sloane for me? Don is still with Maggie. Jim looks on, like a sad puppy. Jim lied to Lisa and said that he had come to see her, because he knew Maggie was choosing to stay with Don. So basically, everyone is in almost exactly the same place as they were at the beginning of the season and the episode, and no one is truly happy. I’m so glad I watched. God, these people are all so pathetic! Make it stop!
Finally, we find out that is was Mac in the audience the night Will tore up that poor college student on why America’s not the best country in the world. And in case that nice full-circle moment wasn’t enough, Sorority Girl was outside waiting to apply for an internship. Why have only one slice of cake when you can eat the whole thing, you know? This show doesn’t know when to stop. I can’t believe Will actually told her that she ruined his life and I find it ridiculous that she’d show up, but I’ll admit that Will having her ask the question again so he can respond “You do”, that was nice.
The Newsroom isn’t a terrible show, but I do find its problems frustrating. I’ve enjoyed enough of the show to tune in for season two, but only because it’ll be airing in June. Summer is enough of a TV wasteland that I can commit to shows I might otherwise pass on. What about you guys? Did you like season one? Will you be back next Spring?