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September 16, 2013 4:38 AM   Subscribe


 
The opening monologue from the Newsroom pilot. For comparison.
posted by yoga at 5:18 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ouch.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:20 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey now. Buffy had great dialogue.
posted by schmod at 5:34 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was pretty accurate, actually.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:34 AM on September 16, 2013


I enjoyed both of these in their own ways.
posted by Quilford at 5:37 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The opening monologue and the actual link that is.

Until I rewatched the actual link and something clicked I was marvelling at how they managed to get all the extras back in and act the exact same way.
posted by Quilford at 5:43 AM on September 16, 2013


Yeah, what about that backhanded Buffy diss? I haven't watched a frame of the Newsroom other than the linked video, but that nearly invalidates this entire op-ed piece for me.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:47 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, but, but, can that long(winded sorkinism), be parsed out to be a single sentence?
posted by sammyo at 5:54 AM on September 16, 2013


Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a billion times better than that tendentious pile of crap The West Wing ever was.
posted by koeselitz at 5:54 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Only because WW never did an operatic episode.
posted by sammyo at 5:56 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This video is to The Newsroom what The Newsroom is to Sports Night and the West Wing: all the Sorkin trademarks (talking fast, liberal speechmaking, musicals references, ditsy women, etc.) without anything new.

I can only assume that Luke Barnett and Jason Jaggard are really writing The Newsroom.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:58 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate the original opening monologue from The Newsroom.

It's so fucking stuck on how the young generation sucks and things used to be so much better back when and that's the biggest pile of horseshit you can try to sell ever.
posted by dogwalker at 6:00 AM on September 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yeah, what about that backhanded Buffy diss? I haven't watched a frame of the Newsroom other than the linked video, but that nearly invalidates this entire op-ed piece for me.

I'm going to guess it's a reference to Sorkin's tendency to offhandedly dismiss lots of things as juvenile.
posted by Think_Long at 6:00 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's so fucking stuck on how the young generation sucks and things used to be so much better back when...

See I thought it was more about how the young generation's news sucks, and used to be better back with Rather and Cronkite and Murrow. Not that kids today are in any way worse, just that America is.

And perhaps kids are because they're less well informed, but again, you can't just not acknowledge that because it makes you look like Andy Rooney.
posted by opsin at 6:09 AM on September 16, 2013


Its having to laboriously explain everything in breathless sentences is unintentionally funny, as is the name Mackenzie McHale. The whole thing is very far fetched but it does convey important info that real US networks wouldn't, and it does show up the utter bullshit that is modern TV news.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:10 AM on September 16, 2013


Has this seasons The Newsroom had it's twerking episode yet?
posted by sammyo at 6:12 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


After a season and a half of Newsroom, I've decided to break up, and I don't think I'll call or email, just fade away into the background. Aaron Sorkin probably won't even notice because I don't even know if he likes women.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:14 AM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's so fucking stuck on how the young generation sucks

Actually it's stuck on how the corporate profiteering of television news skews towards the tragedy of the young blond victim du jure to the point of ignoring literally the entire rest of the world.
posted by sammyo at 6:20 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know it's cool to hate on the Newsroom. But it's friggin' TV. And it's significantly better and smarter than 99.9% of the other stuff that's on.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:22 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually it's stuck on how the corporate profiteering of television news skews towards the tragedy of the young blond victim du jure to the point of ignoring literally the entire rest of the world.

"[J]ust in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth at some point."

[Y]ou are a part of the worst PERIOD generation PERIOD ever PERIOD."

These are actual lines from the opening monologue scene, which doesn't so much as mention TV news or problems with journalism. It's a cranky old man telling the young woman she's dumb, everyone like her is dumb, and the past was better because people -- and here's a repeated phrase -- "were men."
posted by kewb at 6:23 AM on September 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


Sorkin has three problems. His first problem is Sorkinese, which is now a_thing. His second is that The Newsroom is not The West Wing so he's got a tough act to follow.

His third problem is that people want to believe in a show that tells them that their president is human, but basically trying to do his best. They don't so much want to watch a show in which an actor channels Aaron Sorkin and reminds them that America's provision of TV news is unutterably shit and largely divorced from the business of trying_to_make_the_country_a_more_informed_place. It makes them feel lectured to, and stupid for being part of it.

I, however, am not American and didn't watch The West Wing. So while The Newsroom feels preachy and operatically styled, it doesn't make me feel bad. I like it. I can understand how Sorkinese can grate over time though. I don't think anyone since Shakespeare has used the passionate soliloquy quite as much.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:25 AM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


dogwalker: “It's so fucking stuck on how the young generation sucks and things used to be so much better back when...”

opsin: “See I thought it was more about how the young generation's news sucks, and used to be better back with Rather and Cronkite and Murrow. Not that kids today are in any way worse, just that America is. And perhaps kids are because they're less well informed, but again, you can't just not acknowledge that because it makes you look like Andy Rooney.”

So this bit of that original Newsroom monologue –

“You - uh, sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there's some things you should know...”

It's pretty clearly hating on the young, I think – in particular, putting that silly question in her mouth, and then forcing her to stand there while she gets berated. But it's also excruciatingly sexist, the whole "dumb college girl" trope which I didn't think even was a trope anymore it's so dated.

Benny Andajetz: “I know it's cool to hate on the Newsroom. But it's friggin' TV. And it's significantly better and smarter than 99.9% of the other stuff that's on.”

It'd probably be more enjoyable to watch if it didn't try to have its characters tell us that, and explain carefully and often explicitly until we're sick of hearing it that this is an intelligent TV show but those other shows are stupid and dumb and pointless, every five minutes or so.

I don't mind a show that is intelligent. But "telling us everything in the world is stupid" is not the same thing as intelligent.
posted by koeselitz at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


While we're hating, let's not forget that it features largely uninteresting characters in boring love triangles which never seem to get resolved. I for one stopped watching for that reason alone.
posted by chomarui at 6:33 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm sorta surprised that people take that opening monologue and the main character's bitterness, and equate that to the entire show's raison d'etre. Because that's just nonsense.
posted by sutt at 6:35 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


And it's significantly better and smarter than 99.9% of the other stuff that's on.

Ha, not even close. Even the CW has shows with better female characters, for one thing.
posted by kmz at 6:37 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I posted this because of the last 5 seconds of the parody. I want the show to be good, I believe it could be, but it keeps disappointing me with sexism, dismissal of real activist movements like Occupy, overfocus on human interest pap, and sensationalism. So in that sense, it is a perfect mirror of the News.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:37 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


dismissal of real activist movements like Occupy

It think that couldn't be further from the truth. You may have not liked what the show said about Occupy, but it wasn't dimissal.
posted by spaltavian at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


That could be true, I missed an episode in there somewhere... it seemed to me that the focus on that one lady from the movement and her hurt feelings and all the ranting about lack of leaders was undercutting the real story about that time, those people, and their goals. But like I said, missed a few spots I think.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:51 AM on September 16, 2013




I can understand how Sorkinese can grate over time though.

It grates instantly for me. People do not act or speak that way, it's kind of a problem if you intend for your viewers to be able to relate to the characters.

One complaint I have about this parody though--in the episodes I've seen yes, they do treat opposing viewpoints as moronic but they often get called on it and wind up looking like patronizing assholes and having a learning moment. I'll grant the show that much. But I won't be watching.
posted by Hoopo at 7:41 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I keep getting Newsroom confused with NewsRadio, so this was really confusing for a few minutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


People do not act or speak that way, it's kind of a problem if you intend for your viewers to be able to relate to the characters.

If it's clever enough, people could wish they talked that way, so it then comes around to being kind of relatable after all. ...I freely admit to having adopted "tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing" a couple times.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


When, exactly, does Sorkin think the US 'sure used to be' the greatest country on earth?
posted by empath at 7:53 AM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


GallonOfAlan: "Its having to laboriously explain everything in breathless sentences is unintentionally funny, as is the name Mackenzie McHale. "

They've joked about her name on the show several times the last two seasons, including a memorable moment a couple of episodes ago when Jane Fonda's character called her "McMac" and this from last night:

Spoiler Follows

Will: "...will be Mackenzie Morgan McHale MacA- yeah, that's not gonna work."
posted by zarq at 8:11 AM on September 16, 2013


I think the US had a reasonable claim to that title from the time of the New Deal through the early post war period. The US looked pretty impressive to Europe and Japan, which was picking itself back up from the impact of the Second World War and starting to dismantle its existing class structure and build new ones. The US was rich and powerful, but it also was viewed as this gauche, somewhat exotic place where things moved more quickly and everything was in colour while the rest of the world lived in black and white.

By the time Kennedy died the US had had its arse handed to it at the Bay of Pigs and its civil rights battles showed a flawed and vulnerable America. By Watergate the idea that the US was the greatest country on earth looked dated, at least outside the US. Japanese and German manufacturing was in rude health and the US was about to suffer embarrassment and defeat in Iran and Vietnam respectively and find out what OPEC could do.

Jeff Daniels is 58. I presume his character is about the same age. So born in 1955, reared on stories of America's heroics in the 2nd World War and old enough for the Fairness Doctrine to have been part of his adult life.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:12 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


empath: "When, exactly, does Sorkin think the US 'sure used to be' the greatest country on earth?"

See: What We’ve Lost and Gained: Aaron Sorkin’s Complex Nostalgia by Matthew Brandon Wolfson. 'Newsroom' as jeremiad on the loss of a dominant public discourse
"The Newsroom’s protagonist Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) sets the series’ unequivocally backward looking terms in his first monologue. “America is not the greatest country in the world anymore,” he announces to an audience of college students. But, as this anymore implies, America used to be: “We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws — for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest.” Not unpredictably, McAvoy sees the country’s decline from this standard as directly connected to changing media dynamics: “We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed by great men, men who were revered.” The premise of The Newsroom is the possibility of reforming the media, and thus the country, by following in the tradition of those men (“with names like Murrow and Reasoner and Huntley and Brinkley and Buckley and Cronkite and Rather and Russert”). This means “deciding what goes on our air and how it's presented to you based on the simple truth that nothing is more important to a democracy than a well-informed electorate.” McAvoy later clarifies his role in this transaction, making the implicit jarringly explicit: “Who are we to make these decisions? We’re the media elite.”

Well, there we, the audience, are — five minutes into the pilot and already hurtling irretrievably into history, in the company of Murrow, Reasoner, Huntley, Brinkley and the other media elites, to make America the greatest country in the world again. What do we do in the face of goals at once so selective and so sweeping? We spend 10 dispiriting episodes watching talented, intelligent, fast-talking people flail — taking on right-wing cranks, craven gossip columnists, and cowardly heads of their own station to no apparent effect except to strike oratorical blows for the importance of their profession. (Such oratory climaxes in the final episode of the first season, when McAvoy labels the Tea Party the “American Taliban” on air, a curious move in light of his stated aim to inform rather than incite the public.) We’re caught, in other words, in a cul-de-sac of the imagination, where circular rhetoric stands in for clear expressions of problems and solutions. Judging from polls, a critical mass of Americans share Aaron Sorkin’s feeling that things have gone seriously amiss, but is the optimal response to a problem of this magnitude and complexity really to restore the “revered” anchormen of the 1950s and ’60s?

Apparently so, which says something about the clarity of Sorkin’s historical analysis and, more interestingly, about the blind spots born of his nostalgia. He’s not addressing the reality of the postwar period so much as bathing in its imagery. What’s more, judging by the content and tone of McAvoy’s opening speech, the imagery is intensely selective: it derives from John F. Kennedy’s administration and the first part of Lyndon Johnson’s. These were the five or so years between Dwight Eisenhower’s political malaise on one hand and a grassroots political groundswell on the other, when an administration staffed by the country’s intellectual elite enacted social policies of unprecedented breadth and depth. It did this with the support of a society that had enjoyed 15 years of unprecedented prosperity, in which most of the benefits accrued to a culturally and racially homogenous group of people. These years, immediately following World War II and extending until the middle of the 1960s, comprised a period when Americans trusted each other, and in which they reposed an unparalleled level of trust in their leaders and institutions. It was a good time to be an ordinary white American and a good time to be an elite, and, given Sorkin’s preferred narratives, his attraction to this historical window is unsurprising."

posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hmmm. Watched the first two episodes of the newsroom, but then gave up because in my opinion Sorkin doesn't know how to write female characters, he just writes dialogue for men who happen to have breasts.
posted by Faintdreams at 8:21 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Newsroom?
Mark: So do we go with the fight in City Council about rezoning the waterfront, which is a big local story or do we go with the train wreck halfway across the world?

George: We go with the train in the Congo.

Mark: We're supposed to be doing the local news here.

George: Yes. We're looking for a local hook. (Pointing to Jeremy) He's on the phone with this guy.

Jeremy (on hold): Okay, my guy says there may have been a Canadian on board.

George: There. Okay? Is that local enough? Did he go into the water? Is he dead?

Jeremy: I don't know. I'm on hold. We'll find out.

Mark: (reading the copy) Okay. Hold on. Pirhana-infested Congo. Who said there's pirhana in the Congo River?

George: Jeremy did.

Jeremy: No. I never said that. I never said there were pirhana there. I said similar to...

George: I'm saying let's use the word pirhana. It's higher concept. People identify with it and we'll use something like pirhana-like. How's that? Pirhana-like fish.

Mark: We still haven't even confirmed there's a Canadian.

Jeremy: Well we're hoping there's a Canadian dead. I mean that's ... that's

George: We're hoping he's dead.
posted by RobotHero at 8:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I really wish Boardwalk Empire would be added to the trifecta of actually-really-masterful shows along with Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. I mean in the universe of pop cultural criticism, not just this video. Because it's definitely better than the Newsroom, and probably better than Game of Thrones, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:49 AM on September 16, 2013


Boardwalk Empire is the perfect Newsroom chaser. People say so little in their interactions, and then leave you to fill in the blanks based on the expectations and norms of their setting.
Jeff Daniels would just get himself shot.
posted by Theta States at 8:53 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's face it, I would be happy just watching an hour of Richard Harrow weeping with no dialogue whatsoever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:55 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]




If it's clever enough, people could wish they talked that way, so it then comes around to being kind of relatable after all

I suppose this is where we have a difference of opinion on what constitutes clever; I would not even want to be around people who talk that way.

The dialog is done in a way you see written frequently but spoken hardly ever. To me a lot of it comes off as unconscious self-insertion where the writers tell us what they think about current events that aren't even that current anymore.

Which is actually another beef I have with the show; it seems a bit cheap to be able to take advantage of hindsight in forming these characters' positions. Especially when you're going to have them speak in a way that makes it all sound like it's so obvious and makes everyone sound so sure of themselves. Because I don't remember there being people like this on the news at the time these events were happening. I think it would be a more interesting show if they kept it in the almost-present and used positions on issues still lacking clarity where there was at least some risk of them being wrong for acting on their prejudices.
posted by Hoopo at 9:02 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found Boardwalk Empire laughably bad. I watched the entire first season and hated every minute of it. I really don't understand the show's appeal.

I remember watching S1 when it aired and just shaking my head over and over again at the implausible bullshit that kept coming and coming and a friend of mine said, "But it's based on a true story!" to which I cried foul.

Of course, when I mentioned the things that seemed implausible and he looked them up, *every single one* of them was fiction.

Good god, if you're going to base a show on history, don't make the implausible stuff be the fiction!

And yeah, I know I shouldn't be watching historical dramas and expecting them to portray anything with real accuracy, but in my mind the only reason the show gets eyeballs is because people think it's true. Had "This really happened!" not been a part of it, people would have given up on it long ago because as a completely made up fiction, it's an utter failure.
posted by dobbs at 9:04 AM on September 16, 2013


I don't take Boardwalk Empire as any more or less true than other HBO period-piece shows like Deadwood or Rome. What were the particular implausible parts for you?
posted by Hoopo at 9:14 AM on September 16, 2013


dobbs: but in my mind the only reason the show gets eyeballs is because people think it's true.

That's a pretty silly assumption to make. I think people appreciate verisimilitude, but generally don't care if the plot actually happened.

it's an utter failure

The people enjoying the show don't think it's a failure. It's okay if you don't like something, you don't need to make up some false reason why other people like it. They just do.
posted by spaltavian at 9:15 AM on September 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I resent Newsroom because it seems to have ruined West Wing for me. I was a huge West Wing fan, and rewatching it was always very soothing and relaxing for me, and I had a problem with his patronizing political rants and his TERRIBLE female characters but I just was able to pretend that wasn't happening.

Then I tried to watch The Newsroom and was all enraged by it, and now I'm all enraged when I watch the West Wing, too. I try but I just can't keep my blinders on anymore and all I can do is shout at the screen about the misogyny and I'm very irritated about that because I just want to crush on Josh and love Toby and not have to be so angry at everyone all the time.

Anyway I'm boycotting all forms of Sorkin for a year or two, and then hopefully I'll get over it and CJ and I can be friends again.
posted by gerstle at 9:17 AM on September 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Has this seasons The Newsroom had it's twerking episode yet?


I had a twerking episode once. The hospital wanted to keep me overnight for observation, but I just went home, got a good 12 hours of sleep, and took the next day off work.

I did have to get some new trousers, however.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sounds like you didn't go t'werk.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:25 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I try but I just can't keep my blinders on anymore and all I can do is shout at the screen about the misogyny and I'm very irritated about that because I just want to crush on Josh and love Toby and not have to be so angry at everyone all the time.

Thinking about The West Wing and women just reminds me of this and then I'm seeing red again and bleh.
posted by kmz at 9:26 AM on September 16, 2013


but in my mind the only reason the show gets eyeballs is because people think it's true.

I watch for Buscemi, the great acting, and wonderful set pieces. I also love the editing.
And I haven't heard any other fans exclaiming how it was based on a true story, that seems like a footnote more than anything.
posted by Theta States at 9:39 AM on September 16, 2013


I found Boardwalk Empire laughably bad. I watched the entire first season and hated every minute of it. I really don't understand the show's appeal.

I remember watching S1 when it aired and just shaking my head over and over again at the implausible bullshit that kept coming and coming and a friend of mine said, "But it's based on a true story!" to which I cried foul.

Of course, when I mentioned the things that seemed implausible and he looked them up, *every single one* of them was fiction.


I don't really know what to say to this, because it has zero to do with what I like about the show. I like the show because it's really well-balanced for a huge ensemble show, and the writers have no problem stringing tension across long storylines and with setting up and subverting expectations in a way that's fairly Shakespearean. Like Game of Thrones, it's about empire building, but it's more thoughtfully and evenly written. The first season was too slow (GoT is often also too slow, as is Mad Men), but it's built into something that's inevitable. It also has really interesting things to say about expectations of manhood and leadership.

As for the historical aspects, they're cool, in a hey-my-grandpa-grew-up-in-South-Jerz-in-the-20s kind of way, but I don't expect any of it to be real. It's a fantasy, just like The Sopranos or Mad Men or even Six Feet Under is a fantasy, and it's using its setting to say something about people but not necessarily about history.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


People do not act or speak that way, it's kind of a problem if you intend for your viewers to be able to relate to the characters.

What you fail to realize is that all of Aaron Sorkin's creations exist in the same universe and they are all science fiction. You see, the only way one could possibly explain the way people talk in his shows is this: in the Sorkin-verse everyone has the unspoken and unacknowledged power to freeze time. However, that power is extremely limited. When a character freezes time the entire world stops and the character who froze time is granted mental access to Wikipedia and Notepad. The characters then may look up any facts they wish and compose snappy rejoinders or monologues, but they can't recite them until they unfreeze time. So all of Sorkin's shows are only presenting the unfrozen parts of his universe, while countless amounts of time is being spent by his characters freezing time and looking up the number of handgun deaths in Venezuela during the 90's and adding that to the response they are about to give to Toby. This theory both is the only plausible explanation for the way people talk in Aaron Sorkin's shows, and makes it much more fun to watch them.
posted by ND¢ at 9:57 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


dobbs: "And yeah, I know I shouldn't be watching historical dramas and expecting them to portray anything with real accuracy, but in my mind the only reason the show gets eyeballs is because people think it's true."

I dunno. I don't have HBO, and I only watched a season or so (can't recall where I stopped).... Anyway, I had no idea about the "true story" when I watched it, and didn't really expect much in terms of historical accuracy, but I did enjoy it all the same. Not sure if what's there would be enough for me to follow it, not hooked the same way as I got with Breaking Bad. But it's a decent show, IMO, or what I saw up to that point was anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:02 AM on September 16, 2013


What you fail to realize is that all of Aaron Sorkin's creations exist in the same universe and they are all science fiction

Yeah I was beginning to suspect it was actually a Fringe spinoff
posted by Hoopo at 10:15 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds like you didn't go t'werk.


Well, it was a...

(•_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

...twerk-related injury.



YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:33 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I like The Newsroom
It is a fictional America but since I am not American nor I live in the Us it's inconsistencies do not grate with me.
By the same relativistic measure, as I am Italian, foreign depictions of Italy and especially mafia by the Americans, really bother me, as "they don't get it".
So is The Newsroom a fiction of American news for the rest of us?
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:38 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Season two plotting guide:

1. Oh look a side plot/situation/relationship is developing!
2. Could it possibly ever relate to McAvoy?
3. If No, just keep it in a holding pattern and make it boring, forever.
4. If Yes, let it develop a little.
5. Now, use it to reveal something about Will McAvoy that doesn't really matter, like he's this fascinating amazing character we're just honored to learn anything about.
6. Act as if that resolved the situation and throw it away.
posted by bleep-blop at 10:41 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You see, the only way one could possibly explain the way people talk in his shows is this:...

They're smart? And they know things they're supposed to know? And that instead of wasting their time in college like most people I know they studied their history, their current events, and their political science... and they mushed them all together in a rather impressive brain that may or may not have anything to do with the stopping of time?

I mean, that's what I get out of a lot of Sorkin characters. They are people we strive to be. And people that we want to be in those positions.

Because if we wanted to watch shows about normal people and things that happen in real life... well, I'm sure there are some episodes of Rosanne still available somewhere.

Also: I don't pretend that people in positions like White House staff and/or network newsroom staff got to their positions by accident. So I don't expect them to talk like the people I'm accidentally surrounded by on a daily basis.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:03 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


well, I'm sure there are some episodes of Rosanne still available somewhere.

Roseanne, the ground-breaking blue-collar feminist show? I would take Roseanne any day over The Newsroom.
posted by kmz at 11:14 AM on September 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


They're smart? And they know things they're supposed to know? And that instead of wasting their time in college like most people I know they studied their history, their current events, and their political science

I spent my time in university studying these things. And journalism. We often had guest speakers that would be in comparable positions to the people on this show. They do not speak like this off the cuff. I'm not sure that's how "smart" people talk. More than anything it reminds me of how people high on cocaine sound when they think they have a point. It is incredibly rare for someone, who has not just finished preparing to speak on a given topic specifically, rant on like people in this show do without so much as a hesitation device.
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey now. Roseanne is some of the best TV ever made and that's all I have to say about that.
posted by gerstle at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're smart?

Also they all have at least one PhD, sometimes two or three, but they never teach or work as researchers, because a PhD is really a You're Smart Certificate and after you get one (offscreen, backstory) you also need to certify that you're a Rich Cool Successful Person by, you know, having lots of money and doing lots of walk-and-talks. But they're still never, never smarter than their therapists, who are all basically telepathic/Sherlock Holmes yet still exist only in order so that they have someone to talk exposition at.
posted by RogerB at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, people. It's a TV show. Who cares if they don't talk like "real" people? It's stylized. You can get real people everywhere else. If you don't like it, fine. But, jeez. It's like Dan Quayle bitching about Murphy Brown's morals.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:07 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, people. It's a TV show.

This is the laziest kind of answer to criticism there is.
posted by kmz at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is the laziest kind of answer to criticism there is.


I made a case, you made a case, we disagree. You don't like the delivery or the way the female characters are drawn, if I understand you correctly. That's your opinion, and it's perfectly valid. I don't think it automatically follows that it's a horrible show.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2013


This is the laziest kind of answer to criticism there is.

Not sure if this is snark or what...

The criticism was that these people don't talk like "normal" people do. However, since even "reality TV" isn't "normal" people having "normal" conversations one could logically accept that no "normal" person would expect television scripts to have actors and actresses talk like "normal" people.

i.e.: Stop expecting Newsroom people to sound like "normal" people. It's TV, it's not gonna.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:29 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't pretend that people in positions like White House staff and/or network newsroom staff got to their positions by accident. So I don't expect them to talk like the people I'm accidentally surrounded by on a daily basis.

Have you heard the Nixon tapes? Do you remember how GWB spoke? They are people. Sometimes shockingly regular ones.
posted by Hoopo at 12:48 PM on September 16, 2013


In my experience people in power actually talk like they do on Veep. Anyway, watch Veep. Its the 30 Rock to the West Wing's Studio 60.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


So many people argue Juno is terrible because she doesn't talk like a teenage girl. But then when was the last time you wanted to listen to a teenage girl talk for 90 minutes?
posted by opsin at 2:13 PM on September 16, 2013


I watched that West Wing clip, and here's what I got out of it:
- White dude teases coworker about her dress and style
- White dude gets called out on it by another coworker
- White dude actively seeks advice about what he did wrong, and then discusses it with the coworker he teased
- Coworkers debate their relative positions on feminism, with one taking a wide view that any kind of teasing based on sexuality is bad, and the other taking the position that it doesn't affect her a whole lot, and at any rate now is not the time for this discussion.

-- Many people, white dude included, walk away having learned something about feminism and problematic situations and how not everything is as black and white as it seems on the surface. In any event, I hope Sam will be more aware of his language and behavior in the future.

I saw the clip as positive, and not negative.

In terms of the speechifying that happens on West Wing and Newsroom, I wish that all the people in these positions spoke this way all the time, because then we would have super-geniuses running everything and we'd all learn stuff, all the time.
posted by disclaimer at 2:29 PM on September 16, 2013



Pretty sure that was Emily Mortimer holding up the "It's Not" signs which is kinda funny.

I liked the parody, but I don't like what I've seen of the newsroom and don't like Sorkinism much.
posted by sweetkid at 2:31 PM on September 16, 2013


I try to watch The Newsroom, but it's hard. For one thing, TV news hasn't been relevant for more than a decade, so it's difficult to get excited about what they do. And for the other, the way the characters react to actual events doesn't match the way I felt about those events at all.

For example, I was absolutely riveted and terrified by the Japanese tsunami that turned into the Fukushima nuclear disaster. From a few hours after the tidal wave hit until at least a week later I was riveted to Metafilter, refreshing that thread over and over, while taking side trips to read news articles, learn about nuclear science and watch video of reactors exploding. It was by far the biggest news story of 2011. But on The Newsroom it was a background event, used to add drama to the B plot of Sloan's ethical crisis. The big thing we were supposed to care about was Will bullying some guy connected to an obscure Republican presidential candidate.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:42 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


But it's also excruciatingly sexist

To be fair, the Newsroom guy is "inspired" by the woman in the audience with the sign to start his rant
posted by Bwithh at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2013


What were the particular implausible parts for you?

Now, 3+ years on, I only vaguely recall the show. I remember pretty much anything with Michael Shannon in it seemed implausible to me. Him flogging himself--him killing someone in a lake where people were being baptized, much of his dialogue and motivations... He wasn't the only character I had issues with, his just stands out more in my memory.

I also think the show sucks on some technical levels--it's beautifully shot and dressed but has some of the worst music cues I've ever heard. For instance, I remember laughing out loud when that sniper rose into frame and the organ music played in the background. I'm laughing now thinking about it--not exactly the impression you want to give a viewer during a serious/murder scene.

And yes, apologies that I implied there was no other reason to watch the show than for its recreation of history. However, I don't think the complaint is the same as saying "Well, Deadwood (or whatever) isn't 'true' though they were real people." Of course, Milch makes up tonnes of shit for that show. BUT, the central characters who die *really* died. They were *really* killed by the people who killed them. In real life, Jack Mccall killed someone in Deadwood (trying not to give spoilers). Same happens in Deadwood the tv show. If Milch had decided that it would be more dramatic for one of his fictional characters on the show to kill that victim--or to have it happen in a gun fight instead of the way it really happened, I'd cry foul. Same if he decided to let that character live. I don't see how it's any different to watch Michael Shannon's character (who never really existed) interact with real people and change history and wonder wtf? It just seems weak and cheap to me. It's a crutch and I got tired of it. Others obviously didn't and haven't.

Hey, at least I gave it a full season. I fell asleep each of my three attempts to make it through the first episode of Game of Thrones.

Different strokes.
posted by dobbs at 10:34 PM on September 16, 2013


Agent Monster is supposed to be a big ol' barely functioning weirdo. But anyway, your objections are pretty much objections to most any historical fiction. I mean, if it bugs you, it bugs you, but it doesn't mean the art isn't worthwhile to those who can suspend disbelief. Shakespeare's historicals were really just history fanfic, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:44 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only because WW never did an operatic episode.

Buffy never sang The Jackal.
posted by scalefree at 10:57 PM on September 16, 2013


We call this guy in our program "Newsroom" 'cause he's a year and a half behind the times, smug with 20/20 hindsight, and hates women.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:18 PM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I enjoy the The Newsroom. That is my statement.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:29 AM on September 17, 2013


Then again, I liked Studio 60 too, so…
posted by ob1quixote at 12:47 AM on September 17, 2013


It grates instantly for me. People do not act or speak that way, it's kind of a problem if you intend for your viewers to be able to relate to the characters.

A lot a people seem to agree with this sentiment in the anti-Sorkin camp. Is this style very different from Grant and Russell, or do some people find them to be grating and unrelatable, too? Or maybe it's that the style is better suited for comedy? I'm really not sure. I like the style, myself, but I can see that it's not to everyone's tastes.

(Skip to 4:45 in that clip for a good example, but the whole clip is fun, as is the film, at least to me.)
posted by LEGO Damashii at 1:36 AM on September 17, 2013


"West Wing" was like the ersatz, rational government we didn't get. The President and administration I wished, exhaustingly at times, we had. Subsequently watching WW was somehow perversely providing the (moral, civic, inellectual) inspiration that the real government was emphatically not. And when each episode was over I felt dirty and shamed for enjoying this fiction while knowing my own government should be 'more' like it but I was doing nothing - though there's nothing I could do - to make it so.

Sorkinese just reminds me of this horror and so I avoid it. Who needs to be reminded, over and over and with no indication of recourse, of one's own shortcomings?
posted by From Bklyn at 3:19 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot a people seem to agree with this sentiment in the anti-Sorkin camp. Is this style very different from Grant and Russell , or do some people find them to be grating and unrelatable, too? Or maybe it's that the style is better suited for comedy?

More that the style works better with cynical characters in an ironized setting. Sorkin wants that sort of caustic, knowitall banter to be unambiguously serious *and* aspirational, which means that it often seems like condescending to the viewer (or arrogantly dismissing the viewer who doesn't share Sorkin's particular brand of vaguely centrist progressivism with strawmen. Remember the blogger characters on West Wing, or the conservative parents on Studio 60 who can't emotionally support or even like their TV writer son because his brother is STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF AFGHANISTAN?)
posted by kewb at 3:55 AM on September 17, 2013


pretty much anything with Michael Shannon in it seemed implausible to me

WHAT.
posted by Theta States at 5:52 AM on September 17, 2013


I was ok with The West Wing's first season having many retreads of subplots from The American President, cause hey, it's basically that movie turned into a TV show and you have to start somewhere. But yeah, The Newsroom is Sports Night + the most unreflective and self-righteous moments of The West Wing. Add in Larry Stu and it's pretty tough for me, even despite Olivia Munn and Dev Patel whom I find delightful.
posted by Errant at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It grates instantly for me. People do not act or speak that way, it's kind of a problem if you intend for your viewers to be able to relate to the characters.

Who cares if they don't talk like "real" people? It's stylized.

I'm with Benny Andajetz on this one. I'm pretty sure that medieval Scottish thanes didn't speak in iambic pentameter, but I managed to enjoy Macbeth anyway.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:19 PM on September 17, 2013


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