‘The Newsroom’ Recap (Season 1, Episode 4): “I’ll Try to Fix You”
When will this country be free of Coldplay montages?
Oh, Newsroom. You were doing okay last week; I thought maybe we were going to get through this–maybe Aaron Sorkin would continue to collaborate with young, informed writers as in last week’s “112th Congress,” and somehow along the way remember how to write the interpersonal workplace drama for which he is renowned . But then the writing credits for this week’s “I’ll Try to Fix You” (YES just like the Coldplay song) popped up on screen, showing that the episode was written solely by Aaron Sorkin. And when I saw that I was pretty sure this episode was going to be a shitshow. And it was!
Last week The Newsroom showed off some of its immense promise and skill in its exploration of the origins and rise of the Tea Party–it’s a story that many of us have heard before, but it was well-written and integrated other factual stories into the episode and provided the audience an opportunity to learn something! This week, the only thing I learned really was that Glenn Beck lies! And thank god Aaron Sorkin made fun of Glenn Beck for us, because we really needed someone to. I’m never against making fun of Glenn Beck, but Jon Stewart can do it in a way that is both more intelligent and entertaining, so step off, McAvoy.
The news story of this week’s episode was mainly ‘dispelling myths about President Obama’s record’. Ummmm really? Is that what we’re really doing? Because you know, you can watch Meet the Press roundtables online now, and I could watch that for the same topic and I’m sure it would be far more entertaining, informative, and most importantly, it wouldn’t be quite so smug. It doesn’t matter how many times you make your main character shout, “I’m a registered Republican!”, it does not negate the fact that you are essentially presenting amateur hour campaign ads to an audience that is probably voting for Obama anyways, they watch True Blood, let’s be real here. The fact that it is so very heavy-handed and condescending is irritating enough–but then the news portion of the episode is written (or directed, I’ll be generous with the blame here) in such a way that there’s no real time spent examining the misconceptions and flaws of right-wing portrayals of President Obama’s time in office.
The other news story running throughout the episode was Dev Patel’s insistence that Bigfoot is real! Hahaha that’s so funny because this is 1993 and I think I just saw that subplot on an episode of Clarissa Explains It All. Just kidding–it’s tortuously unfunny and a complete waste of Patel’s talent (surprise, surprise). Juuuust like Jim and Maggie’s on-and-off again relationship, which surprise, is still on and then off again. For an update: Maggie is dating Don again, after breaking up with him ‘for real’, and Don set Jim up with Maggie’s roommate, and it went well for everyone except Maggie. The whole thing was a waste of talent and failed to advance the overarching plot (is there one? I haven’t found it yet) in any way. It’s not that smart people behaving foolishly isn’t funny–it’s just that these characters are acting so juvenile, they are not even real people. I once saw a polyamorous relationship between three acid-dropping nineteen-year-olds break up in a dining hall on churro night, and they did it with more decorum than these people have.
The main plot of this episode focused on Will enraging a gossip columnist (she had every right to be enraged, and also everyone knows not to mess with gossip writers, come on now) and then popping up in the tabloids after dating a succession of craaaazzzzzyyyy women! You know how women are! They’re all crazy and additionally are corrupting America by watching too much Real Housewives of New Jersey. The entire thing is so pointless and at times offensive that I’ll only add that Jane Fonda’s character is behind it all, in retaliation for Will’s attacks on Tea Party candidates. There was even a helpful flashback to last week’s episode in case we forgot? Thanks Aaron Sorkin, you are really at the top of your game here!
The episode’s rushed conclusion focuses on the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, and here The Newsroom briefly showed its potential: the staff all left behind their interpersonal drama to professionally leap into action. It would have been very dramatic and affecting if not for how inappropriately it was handled: what could have been great kept falling off the rails–the Coldplay song, the dragged-out nature of the montage, Jim and Maggie bonding during the shooting (what?), Dev Patel looking forlornly at the Bigfoot slideshow he must abandon to actually do his job (WHAT?), the context for it given the rest of this episode, the very classless feel of it altogether. The worst thing about The Newsroom is the way it consistently and unfailingly squanders it’s own potential. Just go watch Hit and Miss instead.
Other things this episode:
-Alan Poul directed and maybe should not have? There were HIGH-ACTION shaky cam and SUPER-FAST closeups for a conversation in…Sam Waterston’s office? Between two seated men who didn’t even really have to raise their voices? Did we really need a lens flare for that?
-Chris Matthews’ son popped up! That’s kind of fun.
-YESSS, Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn) rolled on in from Pawnee, IN, as did Tom Haverford’s ex-girlfriend Lucy! Two excellently-portrayed female characters from a well-written television show were wasted as human accessories to the male characters on this badly written show! You could watch two episodes of Parks and Recreation in the time it takes to watch one of The Newsroom, just sayin’.
-There was some Olivia Munn action! It was actually super funny, because she’s an economist, but she’s bad at dating! Hahahahaha! Oh wait, no, this show is just lazy.
-Over the course of this episode, I kept track of the things the female characters talked about to each other. In first place was men, menmenmenmenmen; in second place was nails; and in third was Maggie reassuring her nervous roommate that she isn’t dumb. Nnnnoooo, but this show is starting to beeeeeeee.
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