My brother Connor has been watching The Newsroom, and since I saw it a few times and stopped without even really noticing, I made arrangements to meet up with him on good ol’ facebook chat today to try to figure out why a show I like in theory was so easy to tune out:
Caroline: oh here we are. i had it on limited or something
Caroline: HI! so you’re watching newsroom
most of it
i didn’t finish last night’s episode and when i was watching i was eating pistachios
so my attention was divided
but it was a good one
Caroline: even though it was good, you didn’t finish it?
Connor: no i was really tired and out of pistachios
i was going to finish it today but you woke me up for this
Caroline: do you want to finish it before you try to convince me that i should watch it?
Connor: no, the plot is irrelevant
the plot is news that happened last year
so you feel really engaged and smart when those stories are breaking and you know what’s going to happen before they do
it’s like blues clue for adults
Caroline: i’m not convinced this show is any more than aaron sorkin writing his own fan fiction for a career he’d rather have
which seems to be everything he’s done
Connor: right, so apparently aaron sorkin fan fiction is popular and translates well into tv
are you sure you’re not just jealous because your female truck driver fan fiction sucks?
Caroline: it’s tough to transcribe the beauty of the solitary open road existence, ok?!
Connor: i’m sorry that was a cheap shot
Caroline: that’s ok, you haven’t read my latest stuff, it’s fine
tell me what you like about newroom
or answer this question: why is it worth watching?
Connor: i’ll go with the characters, but i don’t care about half of the characters and their sub-plot bullshit
like the jim and pam dynamic that’s going on
Caroline: yeah i could do without the will they / won’t they buuuullllshit.
so what characters do you like?
Connor: sam waterston’s my favorite
because i like sam waterston playing any form of a drunk who yells and says “fuck” at least once an episode
Caroline: you know what show i would watch? exactly this show, but with one steady shot trained on sam waterston, so all the action of the newsroom is happening and you just get to watch his eyebrows dance while he sits alone in his office and pours another drink
Connor: god i’d watch that show
Caroline: and then all the sudden people come flying in going “blah blah blah RATINGS!” and he yells “REAL NEWS” and they leave and he settles back down into his chair for three minutes
before the credits roll
Connor: as you can hear important dialogue muffled in the background outside of his locked door
Caroline: yes, that’s key. but only kind of, and when you start to try to tune into what’s being said, he talks to himself and you’re back in sam land
Connor: when this show gets cancelled after they inevitably run out of material, or “news,” we’ll talk to sam about a spinoff
it’ll be like garfield minus garfield
Caroline: wait when does the news run out? is that coming up?
Connor: i haven’t seen any news today
Caroline: there was a shooting
Caroline: in texas
Connor: oh jesus
Caroline: on a real note: what i liked about the osama episode i saw was that they got into the magnitude of what it is to bear the responsibility of breaking news
and i feel like this could be a better show if it was more about that… more a targeted indictment of the way we handle news in this country
today’s shooting will be covered, undoubtedly, in ways that experts keep begging the news not to
putting up photos of the shooter, aggrandizing his legacy and making it aspirational to some other poor soul with a psychotic disconnect from society
Connor: he did a fantastic breakdown of how nancy grace disgustingly “covers” the news
in the latest episode
Caroline: oh really?
Connor: yeah, they get creamed in ratings because they refuse to give the casey anthony trial any airtime so they get yelled at by all the heads of the network or whatever and then they bring in don keefer to break down nancy’s coverage of it
all of the looped video of caylee’s home videos constantly playing somewhere on screen, showing casey’s tattoos to represent her as a bad mom, bringing in “experts” whose only job is to agree with whatever nancy says
it’s scary because you’d like to think nancy grace’s team is just throwing together something so they can cover one story for 3 hours straight, but it’s all very thought out and manipulative
Caroline: that is the very scary part, to me. and also what i feel like is worth getting into more than why jim can’t say “i love you” to his crush’s roommate he’s accidentally dating or whatever that is
Connor: yes, thank you
why i watch this show
Caroline: but not ever, ever at the expense of sam waterston screen time. that is paramount, and always will be.