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12 Reasons Why I Love Aaron Sorkin's "Newsroom" Over the Objection of Critics

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | July 16, 2012 | Comments ()


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Because John Gallagher Is the Most Charmingly Unassuming Dork Since John Krasinski

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Because of Will and MacKenzie's Old-School Comedy of Remarriage Is the Closest Television Gets to His Girl Friday

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Smug? Overwritten? Yes. But Also Honest

Because Drunk Sam Waterston is the BEST Sam Waterston

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Maggie and Jim are the Most Fun Couple to Ship Since Jeremy and Natalie

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Also, Because It Looks Like We Could've Started Shipping Them Years Ago

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Because I Want to Be Punched in the Face by Alison Pill

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Because I Like Being Won Over By Someone Who I Never Thought I Could Appreciate

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Because Will McAvoy Is Trying to Rehabilitate the Image of Republicans

"First of all I'm a registered Republican, I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure instead of gay marriage..."

Because Don is a fuckin' NEWSMAN

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Because Will McAvoy Is On a Mission to Civilize

"I think people who willfully, purposefully, and gleefully lie to the American people in order to damage someone's reputation should, like a registered sex offender, be required by law to come with that warning label for the rest of their lives."

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(On a Gossip Columnist) "I'm not putting you down. I'm just saying that what you do is a really bad form of pollution that makes us dumber and meaner and is destroying civilization. I'm saying, with all possible respect, that I would have more respect for you if you were a heroin dealer. And I'm speaking professionally, not personally."

Because of the Last 10 Minutes of Last Night's Episode. Yes. it may have been sanctimonious, and yes, it may have been manipulative, and it may have unfairly used a bad Coldplay song. But you know what? I don't care. It gave a real news story -- the shooting of Gabriel Giffords -- more humanity than anything on the actual news ever managed to do when she was shot. It also made me feel all the feels that I once associated with the best scenes in West Wing and in the final moments of the Studio 60 pilot and and the bumps and the chills I remember getting Isaac's speech on the Confederate Flag in Sports Night. I love and appreciate television's current obsession with anti-heroes, but there's also something to be said for television with a message, even if that message is heavy handed and comes off sounding like a lecture. It feels good to be inspired by television, and to experience something each week as affirming and rousing as "Newsroom," by someone who is on a mission to civilize.

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5 Shows After Dark 7/16/12 | Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling


Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jack

    Because I'm contrarian.

    *fixed*

  • Katy

    I am a sucker for your TV recommendations. Which means that I sometimes end up watching a show like a Happy Endings, even though I am disappointed more often than not. But I persevere, and keep the faith. I will definitely put this on my ASAP list, mostly because I'm not watching anything else right now and I miss TV. The barrier is that by not watching shows in the "system" I have to rely on the hubby to go out and get these for me. But this gives me a good short list (along with Veep and new Louie). The list is big enoug now though, so it's worth the effort.

  • FUCK. YES.

  • manting

    1. the show is hilarious - Sam Waterson and Jeff Daniels are great together.
    2. Last nights episode references Don Qiouxote - which is who WIll is - he is tilting at women instead of windmills and with the same silly results. You cant better a person with an argument (99.9% of people dont listen) - and that is the absurd part- he means well but his aims are impossible

  • Inias Green

    Dustin, you love Newsroom because there isn't any other show in recent memory that cater so well to your sense of straight/white/male privilege.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I still haven't caught this week's episode. I will say I forgot about the black female booker. I will also say the show does pass the Bechdel test (we'll check each episode.)

    But also that this thread has pretty much THE most intelligent commentary I've ever read. Bravo, people.

  • It's alright with me if parts of Newsroom is "heavy handed and comes off sounding like a lecture." because that shizz is the TRUTH. The rest of it is so funny and entertaining they can get away with the occasional high handed lecture. It's all a beautiful fantasy anyway, and any fantasy that makes the Labradoodles of the mainstream media uber uncomfortable is also alright by me.

  • Penny

    Because in the past, when a white man went on a "mission to civilize" it always ended so fabulously.

  • CorporateShill

    12 Reasons Why I Couldn't Read the Subtitles:
    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

    THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid

  • Steve Ward

    Testify, Brother Justin!

  • rio

    First of all AlabamaPink will always be my favorite republican.
    Second Sorkin just made WIll a Republican just to be able to pretend he's actually trying to not be bias. Good try buddy. that was so subtle. But I think you wouldn't know subtle is it was slicing you up like a laser knife.
    Also I can't help loving the banter, It's trite, and petty but I'm sucker for it whether is awful cheap ass banter on teen show on the CW or Sorkin dying of old age.
    He's officially the U2 of screenwriting. I've meet less preachy baptist pastors. Michael Moore and him should start a club: "Nobody will ever be as smart and clever and liberal as us".

  • Irina

    I read the title of this thread and started counting on my fingers: Jim is totally adorable, Olivia Munn is actually great here (and I usually hate her), I finally warmed up to Don in the last episode, Charlie rules, Will's "it should come with baloons" line, the murder of the blackberries, the very educational information that hurricanes are not caused by gay marriage (I definitely feel smarter now for knowing that). You covered all of that and more, but I have to disagree with the "I would respect you more if you were a drug dealer" line, that was way over the top for me. Oh and you showed me John Gallagher's old hair and totally ruined him for me, you bastard.

  • Captain Ron Swanson

    Hurricanes are caused by low barometric pressure.

  • TheKoiPolloi

    Can someone who's watched the show tell me if it passes the Bechdel test?
    To wit:
    1. It includes at least two named women characters
    2. who have at least one conversation
    3. about something other than a man or men in general.
    Genuinely curious.

  • rio

    1. yes
    2. yes
    3. No. clearly women only talk about men.

  • This isn't the best Sorkin show, no arguments there. It feels stretched to make the 1 hr (or 55 minute) mark for HBO instead of the 44 minutes of broadcast. There are stereotypes running rampant and the occasional klutzy female character moment.
    But, all of that said - I'm in. I had all the episodes in my DVR and binged on them last night. It was good. It was a great viewing experience. And yes, by the time I got through BP and Sen. Giffords I was emotionally overwrought, but I was emotionally overwrought when these events happened. It played.
    Also, to the complaints about it being in the past and therefore being a cheat (which I think is lazy criticism). I say this - I would rather have the show deal with actual news/issues as opposed to veiled fictitous storylines. Additionally it should be noted that in 4 weeks the show has covered at least 6 months... he's catching up to real time.

  • Grift

    The real issue here: no one calls Fix You a "bad coldplay song"....Fuck that nonsense

  • Leftylad

    *sigh* Wish I could afford HBO. Good television used to be free (along with the bad television, of course). I missed Game Change, haven't seen a second of Game of Thrones ... Now DirecTV doesn't even have Comedy Central anymore, so I don't even get to watch The Daily Show.
    Is this some convoluted plot to get me to go back to reading newspapers or something?

  • L.O.V.E.

    I think anything this show is trying to say about the state of media and journalism was already said more poignantly and astutely by David Simon.

  • GunNut2600

    My issue with the show is that it presents the concept that journalism used to be at some great and noble prior to its current situation. That's a load of shit. Its fantasy...nothing more.

    Do we all miss Uncle Walt? I sure do but I'm not going to sit here and say journalism was so much better than it is now. If you weren't white and at least middle class, you didn't make the evening news. We didn't hear about violence occurring on reservations or COINTERPOL actions of the FBI. Journalism was incredibly willing back then to completely self censor itself compared to today. And just how most newspapers and other news outlets have struggled against the juggernaut of the internet, Uncle Walt would have struggled too.

    On one hand, I am very disturbed by the breakup of journalism. If you only want your views confirmed about the world, its very easy today to do just that. But at the same time, with little effort, its extremely easy to hear voices that would never see the light of day.

    I can see why people like Sorkin's, especially his techniques with dialogue. But the underlying message of the show is so dubious to me.

  • thaneofmemphis

    Also: Bigfoot.

  • Natalie never deserved Jeremy.

    I feel like I really don't have much else to add that hasn't already been covered ad nauseum. His women are ridiculous blah blah blah the writing is sharp blah blah blah John Gallagher is adorable. It's better than so much else on tv (especially in the summer wasteland), so can the Internet please bitch about something else now?

  • John Wao

    I wonder who has it worse the smart women on The Newsroon who need men to explain how things work for them or the women on Californication whose sole purpose is to get naked and have sex with David Duchovny?

  • Heatseeker

    Easy. The women on Newsroom have it way worse. They're used as objects to make the men look smart and righteous, whereas the women on Californication are being used as objects to make the men look like shits. And also they get to have sex with David Duchovny.

  • Pentadactyl

    As opposed to the smart man that spent the episode trying to convince everyone Big Foot is real.

  • John W

    The difference is there was no woman there to tell him bigfoot doesn't exist and to get back to work. That guy actually called a meeting to discuss bigfoot.

  • Pentadactyl

    And if you wanted to, you could paint that as a statement on how men feel the need to insult everyone else and embarrass them over every minor idiocy while the women are more nurturing of their subordinates. But I don't think that's the case. Not every difference between a male and a female character is sexism, not every difference between a group of male characters and a group of female characters is sexism. Sometimes it's just about those particular characters and that particular story.

  • Patrick Garcia

    If people are constantly debating the merit of one's writing, then in my opinion, that should be seen as a good thing. It's a helluva of a lot better than being a writer no one gives a shit about. Aaron Sorkin has been deeply critiqued just as much as Amy Palladino, Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, David Simon, and JJ Abrams. Now I'm not saying all publicity is good publicity, I'm just saying Sorkin is getting people to talk, think, and be entertained all at the same time. And that's not always a bad thing.

  • Devil Child

    America's probably still the greatest country in the world.

    We've remained a secular state in the face of both Communism and Islamism. We assimilate immigrants better than any other nation in history even to this day. We can say whatever we like about our leaders more than any other nation, even though this is often abused for outright lies about secret Muslims and Saddam Hussein never having any diplomatic quarrel with the US.

    We haven't had a woman president yet, but nobody in the country would oppose having one as long as said woman propagated what they liked. We're less antisemitic than any other country in the world, and as bad as anti-Muslim sentiment is in the country, it's still less horrible than the European countries.

    China has better debt management and growth than us, but they're a totalitarian dictatorship. Canada's more responsible, but they didn't have to frontline the Cold War, and have a tenth of the U.S.'s population. Brazil has more resources and better debt spending, but they're still only two decades into actual democracy, and have a lot of cleanup left before they catch up. South Africa's similar to Brazil, even though I'm just thankful it didn't end up like Kenya. Japan and Korea are still incredibly racist and sexist for developed countries, and even though Japan tolerates a higher level of sexual content than the U.S., they expel anyone nerdy from civilized society. Germany just classified the foreskin as equivalent to the clitoris. Venezuela's a shithole, and fuck anyone who defends Hugo Chavez. Do I even need to talk about how Russia's nine centuries less progressive than the U.K., a country a century less progressive than the U.S.?

    I don't think the U.S. is doing nearly as well as it should. Congress, the increasingly radical right, the increasingly retarded left, and the Libertarians who think the country started a down-slide in one of the Roosevelts's administrations might just tank us behind the U.K., France, Japan, and Germany. But unless an actual dictatorship comes along for national takeover, the U.S. will always be better than even the most cosmopolitan autocracies.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I'm sorry, but you're wrong on so many things here, I have to dissect your posting.

    "We've remained a secular state in the face of both Communism and Islamism."
    -- What has that to do with being a secular state? And why wouldn't you remain one?

    "We assimilate immigrants better than any other nation in history even to this day."
    -- Wrong choice of words. You don't 'assimilate', people assimilate themselves. Also, the word 'better' is equally wrong. The US does it differently from, say, Canada. Both way work quite well, though, if you don't count illegals.

    "We can say whatever we like about our leaders more than any other nation,..."
    -- Bullshit. Come to Europe. You can say anything you want about our politicians here.

    "China has better debt management and growth than us,..."
    -- Growth? Yes. Debt management, though? You can't be serious. Do you know why China's growth is better? Because they funnel tremendous amounts of money in their economy. How do you think these programs are funded?

    "We haven't had a woman president yet, but nobody in the country would
    oppose having one as long as said woman propagated what they liked.
    We're less antisemitic than any other country in the world, and as bad
    as anti-Muslim sentiment is in the country, it's still less horrible
    than the European countries."
    -- I wouldn't be so sure about the first two points. I'd like to know how do you know that. You're sadly right about islamophobia, though.

    "Germany just classified the foreskin as equivalent to the clitoris."
    -- No, we didn't. That statement is wrong in it's entirety. One city's court outlawed circumcision of minors on the grounds that it's essentially unnecessary surgery and therefore doing the kids physical harm. The whole thing will end up before our federal constitutional court, and it's highly probable that it will reverse that decision because of the article about religious freedom in our constitution.

    "...the U.K., a country a century less progressive than the U.S.?"
    -- How do you come up with shit like that?

  • Devil Child

    The U.S. made a serious move towards democracy starting with the revolution in 1776, even though it took another decade and a half to make a real country. England's real move towards democracy didn't occur until the reign of David Cameron lookalike William IV in the 1830's.

    That said, with the creation of the Magna Carta, England made a greater move towards democracy than Russia attempted until Gorbachev. That's how I came up with those figures.

    While I don't deny the sexist remarks that were made during Hillary Clinton's campaign, you can't deny that the same people making those remarks u-turned when Sarah Palin became McCain's VP nod. All it took was a woman who agreed with everything they said before they started attacking the Democrats for sexism. People don't hate the idea of a woman being president, they'll just stoop to any low to prevent someone they don't like from being president.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    "The U.S. made a serious move towards democracy starting with the
    revolution in 1776,..."

    That's like writing "First!" in an internet discussion. It's totally meaningless.

    "While I don't deny the sexist remarks that were made during Hillary
    Clinton's campaign, you can't deny that the same people making those
    remarks u-turned when Sarah Palin became McCain's VP nod. [...]"

    That doesn't prove your point. The republicans weren't able to chose their VP candidate. Also, how do you know that misogyny wasn't a factor when Obama was chosen over Clinton in the democratic primaries?

  • Maguita NYC

    Please, do not also forget that other countries had the balls to prosecute their former presidents, and prime ministers on rape, sexual harassment, financial distortion, and murder, as legally as any other citizen.

    We are yet to have the balls here in the US to prosecute George W. Bush and most of his cabinet at the time, on falsifying information to go to war. As well as still to this day, a sub-specie maggot like Karl Rove is a free man.

  • Devil Child

    Very few countries ever impeach their leaders under any circumstances. Boris Yeltzin was never impeached. India, Croatia, Norway, Germany, Austria, Taiwan, and a whole bunch of other countries have never impeached their main leader. England has never successfully impeached a Prime Minister, they haven't even attempted to impeach a Prime Minister since 1848. Romanian President Traian Băsescu became president again a month after his impeachment. About the only country that actually impeached their most powerful leader when they deserved it without deteriorating into violence that I know of was Brazil, and Fernando Collor stole the bank accounts of every Brazillian who had more than a thousand U.S. dollars deposited.

    As bad as the Bush years were, the Democrats don't have any solid evidence that Bush did something actively illegal while President. The Republicans couldn't convict a President for crimes with DNA evidence. I can't imagine how unstable the country would get to warrant an impeachment.

  • John G.

    From your arguments, I would conclude that there is no "greatest" country and all countries have weak and strong points, not that the United States is the greatest. Trying to find the greatest country does seem like a pretty silly thing to do.

  • JenVegas

    YES! A million times all of these things! Every Sunday night I sit on my bed and watch this show and laugh and tear up, and rant in response to it and I love every minute of it. I swear it is as perfect as television is going to get, ever. I love this show so hard I don't even have the ability to express it in words.

  • Pookie

    I agree with you Rowles, Republicans are corrupt and shitty and stupid.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I notice there is absolutely no disagreement where Sam Waterston is concerned. As it should be.

  • Sam Waterson deserves all the Emmys he can rake in for this character. He leaves me wanting more after every episode.

  • Pentadactyl

    Best part of the show. Without a doubt.

  • Kala

    *Head Nod* Waterston should be the one we turn to in order to bring war-torn nations together.

  • Maguita NYC

    As always, Sam Waterston keeps earning our respect in all his greatness.

  • hapl0

    Because I Like Being Won Over By Someone Who I Never Thought I Could Appreciate.

    I didn't think I'd be posting the same jpeg twice but here we are: http://chzmemebase.files.wordp...

  • Kala

    This is a decent show with great moments.

    The interpersonal relationship are, for the most part, ridiculous. Allison Pill went from "That Kinda Spazzy, Neurotic Girl," to "Fucking Obnoxious," as of last night. While the Will/MacKenzie arc can be amusing at times, it's starting to get old real quick.

    But the writing is excellent. So good that I already give a shit about everyone, even the obnoxious ones. I agree with Dustin's points; I want television to inspire me every now and then. The last ten minutes were a bright spot in an otherwise murky week of TV, even if Don's line, "Only doctors can pronounce people dead," was ham-fisted as a motherfucker.

    This show has faults and they should be pointed out. It's still one of the best shows on television right now.

  • AudioSuede

    Dustin, I want to give you my sloppy everythings and feed my happiness to a puppy with a droopy spoon so we can giggle together like babies wrapped in a safe blanket of baby ducks and then skip together into a field of sunflowers and daisies where I can let you do me in that kind-of-nasty-but-somehow-kind-of-sweet way that only happy, puppy-feeding, sloppy people can achieve.

  • Maguita NYC

    @AudioSuede:disqus Your original comment was:
    "Dustin, I want to give you my sloppy everythings and feed my happiness to a puppy with a droopy spoon so we can giggle together like babies wrapped in a safe blanket of baby ducks and then skip together into a field of sunflowers and daisies where I can let you do me in that kind-of-nasty-but-somehow-kind-of-sweet way that only happy, puppy-feeding, sloppy people can achieve."

    Reading this, I couldn't help but remind you that a period is not something that happens only once a month.

    Other than that, I happy-puppy agree with your comment.

  • PaddyDog

    I desperately want to love this show: I can get past the sermonizing, I can overlook the sexism (yep, it's there) but I just hate that he set it in the past thereby allowing himself to take no chances with the subject matter. I feel as if I'm looking at an exam paper that the star student cheated on from start to finish.

    By the way, I find the entire concept that we can measure countries of different populations, finances, values and resources against each other and decide which is the greatest to be absolutely absurd. And why does any country have to be "the greatest" anyway?

  • Word. Imagine a better near future.

  • AudioSuede

    I love that it's set in the past. It gives Sorkin the opportunity to do something none of his other shows, including The West Wing, were able to do, which is explore his socio-political idealism within real, difficult situations, where the question isn't, "How can these fictional scenarios work out for our heroes," but, "What would it have been like if these real-world scenarios had been covered correctly?"

    I'm not saying it's not naive, and the "sermonizing" is prevalent, but I certainly wouldn't say he's not taking chances.

  • chrisblogulator

    "The other thing that bothered me was the way the sequence eventually turned into an excuse for the characters to feel good about themselves, to turn this shooting — in which six people died (including a nine-year-old girl), Giffords suffered brain damage that has (for now) ended her political career, etc. — into something that's all about them and their problems. One of the pitfalls of using real-life stories, particularly a tragedy like this one, is that the problems of a few fictional characters don't amount to a hill of beans next to them. I was glued to the TV the day Giffords was shot. I still remember how I felt watching the coverage. When I see those images again in this context, I don't care that Jim's instincts were proven right, that Will is going to fight back against Leona, that Mac is just so, so sorry about the many ways she injured Will. That becomes irrelevant in this moment, and the show and its characters seem self-indulgent, even though I imagine they would be feeling genuine professional satisfaction at covering a story, even one this gruesome, as well as they did." -Alan Sepinwall speaking truth

  • AudioSuede

    I think we have a different interpretation on the meaning of those last scenes. To me, it was more about how easily they were able to put aside their petty personal dramas in the face of something of real, life-and-death importance. The changes in their faces and demeanors underline the notion that all the little things they were arguing about were so silly in comparison to this event, and in that way I feel like the show was honoring the weight of the moment, rather than trivializing it. That seems to be the dividing line on that episode as I've noticed: There are people who think he was using a tragedy for the sake of character development, and there are others who think he was acknowledging that said character development is ultimately unimportant when such tragedy occurs.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Of all the baseless, nitpicky complaints about this show, Sorkin Is A Sexist is probably the most absurd. A world-class female producer runs the show, another is presented as a smart, articulate economist, and a third rose to the rank of associate producer despite eyes that cannot possibly render images in three dimensions. Yeah, the romantic storylines need work and Mac can appear aloof at times for such a veteran reporter. But overall I think the show presents females in a positive light.

    /posted from the kitchen where Im making my own GD sandwich

  • But you're telling me it's believable that only the woman seem to be the ones who can't separate their regular lives from their work lives? They seem to be the ones who keep dragging these "professional men" into embarrassing romantic antics in the work place.

    Oddly enough, Olivia Munn is the most believable of the bunch.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Will parades models around the workplace. The bulk of yesterdays episode centered on Will's inability to function like a normal human around women, and the resulting workplace fallout of those actions. Id say the women are hardly alone.

  • AudioSuede

    Actually, it's clear that the men have the same problem. Note the moment in episode three where Don is told to get over Maggie or he's fired. It's just a different way that their work lives and personal lives intersect, neither more right or wrong than the other.

  • But the woman seem to be the instigators, and the ones who are blatantly bringing their romantic dirty laundry to the forefront at every possible moment.

    Don is told that because Maggie has been playing out their romantic entanglement in front of the whole office causing fumbling backpedaling, and frustrating awkwardness for Don and everyone else. His outburst, and responses seem to be baffled, angry responses, like the kind you have at a child when they just aren't listening to you.

  • AudioSuede

    I have to disagree. Don in particular obviously lets his personal ambitions and his relationship get in the way of his work, and Jim is getting manipulated by Dev Patel's character as much as Mac into letting his crush disrupt his professionalism. Will's constant parading of new girlfriends is blatant instigation.

  • I'm not saying their personal lives don't get in the way of their work. I'm saying that the women seem to be the only ones who have no concern for subtly. They/re vengefully getting everyone around them involved.

  • I thought the last 10 minutes of the show were jaw droppingly hypocritical. Aside from the smug feeling of 20/20 hindsight, the show was hammering the point home that this person was a person and not some story to be used as a ratings ploy just to manipulate peoples emotions and get a tick on the ratings.

    How did they drive this point home?

    By reducing her to a emotional plot point in a poorly scripted show, backboned by "Cold Play"... What is the difference between a news station using her shooting as a ploy for ratings, and a scripted television show using her shooting for a emotional beat during a montage highlighting the love-lorn situations of the cast?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Gabby Giffords was shot along with 18 other people, 6 of whom died. One of the dead was a District Court Judge, another a child of 9. There names are ... ?

    The spree shooting was eventually stopped by the people there, bonking the nut-job with a chair & tackling him. Rep. Giffords is still alive for many reasons. One is a staffer who knew and administered first aid at the scene. Their names are ... ?

    Following these events, the race to cash in in media hysteria was second only to the dogs piling on the rabbit for political advantage, getting people "all wee-wee-ed up" one might say. Their names are ... ?

    The story of "The Gabby Giffords Shooting", is already manufactured and sanitized into another "cute, white girl fell in a well" tragedy. It's a tragedy indeed, yet the one that gets reported among all the others because, well, because she's attractive and fits somebody's agenda.

    Is Sorkin helping or hurting with how he's using this story? I don't know.

  • Irina

    I loved how Will started to say "Gabby" and switched to "Gabrielle" when he first started to report the news. I just thought it was sweet.

  • billdog

    Am I the only one that had difficulty reading that last paragraph because of the quickly repeating gif of the asian video guy?

  • John G.

    Dustin, you keep using the right words, overwritten,sanctimonious, manipulative, but you come to the wrong conclusions.

  • Jezzer

    Amen. I can't get past the smug and overwritten part, and I kind of want to beat Aaron Sorkin repeatedly over the head with his own crack pipe. HARD.

  • Arran

    Maybe after last night's episode wasn't the best time to post this. Last 10 minutes aside (as you say, manipulative but effective), it was Sorkin at his sanctimonious and barely-even-trying-to-hide-his-sexism-any-more worst. I've also been enjoying the show so far for the most part, but last night was kind of terrible.

  • libertyftw

    Barely trying to hide his sexism? If you're referring to McCavoy ripping those three women for promoting gossip and reality television, the defense of those things as "feminine" is actually more sexist than Sorkin's writing.

  • Linds

    Actually, I think it's the notion that he's going to "civilize" or "fix" these women that is so, so gross. Yes, please, educated white man, tell me all the ways in which I'm stupid and dumb and mean, while you are wise and correct in all matters of entertainment and journalism and life, and wait while it sinks in and I eventually thank you for it. I wouldn't have just thrown a drink in his face, I would have thrown the goddamn bar table (just LIKE an irrational woman, am I right, fellas??)

    And I don't mind when Sorkin characters, male and female, flub up in adorable ways (like Alison Pill in the pilot - it makes sense, she's an intern). But why is it always the women who inappropriately bring up personal relationships in work meetings, or send out mass emails about their love lives (EMAIL IS SO HARD!!)

    Now I do like about 70% of this show. I love the dialogue - it's crack-addictive, and I love what it's trying to achieve, and feeling smart for watching something instead of dumb. But like 30% of the show makes me blindingly angry. Sorkin isn't sexist - he just doesn't know how to make female characters who aren't 'problems to be fixed.' So. Gross.

  • AudioSuede

    I think this is all fine and good, but you're completely ignoring all the ways in which he writes his male characters to be equally fumbling, irrational people with short tempers who let their relationships affect their work. And he's not trying to civilize or fix women, he's trying to fix journalism, and gossip columns and the people who read them are perpetuating bad journalism. Would it have been better to have some men who he could have yelled at about this problem in the episode? Yes. But he never says that women themselves are the problem. That's extrapolating to fit your own biases, something everyone does with art when they take offense to something. It's not wrong to be offended, but let's be clear about what you find offensive: Is it that he's criticizing gossip writers, or that you perceive women as the main targets of gossip writers, and therefore you think he's criticizing all women?

  • Graeme Edgeler

    Yes. It also mostly seems to be the guys (or just Will?) who make the glaring errors: e.g. this is quoted above:

    "I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure."

    Of course, hurricanes are cause by low barometric pressure.

    Also Sancho Panza rode the donkey, not Don Quixote. And the opening rant about how America is no longer the greatest, used the stat about child mortality at birth, but seemed to assume a higher number was better, etc.

    And a couple of other things I've forgotten.

  • Pentadactyl

    I have no problem with people, white men or otherwise, trying to "civilize" us in a direction away from trashy reality TV and malicious gossip columns. Just like I have no problem with people, minority women or otherwise, trying to civilize us in a direction away from the Saints' "pay to injure" program or any of the other scandals that plague forms of entertainment traditionally seen as male. I'm ok with Will criticizing female gossip columnists, just as I was ok with Dana and Natalie criticizing male athletes. Wrong is wrong, no matter who points it out.

    And while it's most often the women who inappropriately bring up personal relationships in the workplace, it's the men who are consistently malicious in their relationships, from Will's parading of his dates to Don's phonecall to the roomate. We also have Don taking out his relationship woes on his boss, Will giving up his non-compete clause and a significant chunk of his salary just because of his issues with Mackenzie.

  • Arran

    Thanks, you're way better at explaining what I was getting at than I am. Even though you're a woman and totally hysterical and unable to use the internet properly.

  • Arran

    I refer more in general to his current inability to write a female character that isn't a slightly hysterical flibbertigibbet. He's not overtly sexist and I don't think he's a genuine misogynist, but it sometimes comes across like he's never actually met a woman in his life.

  • Stella

    Was he sexist in his writings on West Wing too? I'm having a hard time finding a female character that I could find mistreated - and I am a card carrying feminist and all. Nancy McNally (awesome), Mrs Landingham (awesome), Mrs Bartlett (awesome), the blond Republican that's on CSI: Miami (awesome)... I'm just drawing a blank on where the sexism is. Granted, we gave up cable, so we can't watch this show (legally) but still, I'm very surprised to see the "sexist" label applied to Sorkin.

  • Arran

    There were certainly elements of it present (for example the way Leo treated his lawyer when testifying in front of Congress), but overall WW was certainly much better with female characters (I'd also add Amy Gardner to your list, BUT CERTAINLY NOT MANDY). So either he's managed to get a little dumber in this regard, or some of the WW goodness was due to a good writer's room. CJ, for example, actually got less flighty and more interesting once Sorkin was fired (even as the show itself got worse).

  • Pentadactyl

    I found CJ smug, Mary Sue esque and utterly unbelievable as a a human being after Sorkin left. While Sorkin was around, she was the best at her specific job and no one, not even her superiors, had her particular skills and expertise and experience. After Sorkin left, she was supposedly the best at everyone's job, while not actually showing any talent.

  • Stella

    Interesting. I think Leo would have treated his lawyer the same whether they were a man or a woman - that had more to do with Leo's issue with the whole idea of being called to testify rather than anything to do with the sex of his counsel. I agree that Mandy was an idiot, but they got rid of her so quickly I hardly think she qualifies as an example of sexist writing. And for the record, I thought CJ was used as comic relief (falling into the pool, for ex) in the beginning of the first term, but that just showed her evolution into the confident and capable Press Secratary she became.

  • Matt Brown

    "Smug? Overwritten? Yes. But Also Honest"

    Still shows the US being highly ranked in a number of categories but focuses on the bad ones. Never really says what country is the best now that the US isn't anymore. Oh, and of course things were always better in the past so you better get off his lawn.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    There is no "best country".

  • Some Guy

    Why the hell not?

    If one person can strive to not be ordinary, to be better at everyone else at acting, sports, mathematics, business, selling cars, practicing medicine, etc, and be the best in their respective fields, then why the hell can't a collective group of people living in one general place have a common goal and strive to be better than the other collective groups of people living elsewhere?

    Wanting to be "the best" got us to the moon.

    Wanting to be "the best" will cure cancer, feed the poor, stop the oceans from rising and eventually bring about world peace.

    When did competition become a bad thing?

  • Leigh

    When you think that your country is "the best" then by that statement you are turning your relationship with the rest of the world into "us vs. them." That never tends to bode well. If "we" are the holy ones, the righteous ones, the smart ones, the rich ones... then we think we are the BEST ones that have to wage war to prove that we will stay that way. (And not necessarily physical war with guns and tanks. We're also talking ideological.)
    Guess what? Italy thinks they are the "best country." So does Japan. So who is right? Everyone? No one?
    Striving to be *great* and to achieve things beyond our wildest dreams is wonderful. Striving to be the GREATEST... meh.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    There is a distinction between trying to be the best country in the world and actually claiming to be it. The former is quite okay - impossible to do, because not everyone will agree to be working towards the same goal, but okay.

    The latter reeks strongly of nationalism. Nothing good ever came of nationalism. It means you willfully disregard and/or ignore your country's failings, which means you do not work to remedy them. That's what's Matt Brown up there did. It gets you nowhere.

  • Maguita NYC

    Case in point, during WWII, the Nazis thought their Germany was the greatest country ever. Not so, with everyone else's intentions on humanitarian, ideological, as well as political pov.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    did not see last night's episode yet, but you know what I'm missing? All the intense vitriol about the lack of minorities in the cast. Oh, sure there's an Indian, but other than that....

  • lowercase_ryan

    two black actors as well. And scores of women working and in charge of the men.

  • L.O.V.E.

    Yah, but do any of them lack at least two of the following: shirts, jobs, motivation, self-awareness or hygeine. Girl'd.

  • special snowflake

    Oh Hell Yes, Rowles- After seeing the 'Sorkinism' comp video I wish I'd never seen, I had decided to pass on 'Newsroom' for fear of having some good Sports Nights and West Wing memories tarnished (not to mention 'A Few Good Men').
    This most excellent and finely-structured GIF/dialogue joyfest has given me not just the motivation, but the actual excitement to know that right after I finish this comment, I'm going to be indulging in online viewings of every available episode on my 'Geek Squad'' soldier's-installed ad- and membership-blocked pirate video website! YEAHH!
    Really great article, Dustin, you still got the touch.

  • special snowflake

    oh...
    yeah, I really said 'joyfest'. Deal.

  • Rowles, I've shipped the kitten to you, and I have complete faith in your ability to nurture it with love, even as it grows and figures out that claws are weapons of sublime cruelty. Despite all odds, you are leading with your heart when it matters, and that's on the big stuff. Your snark card has gone missing a lot lately, but it simply makes the snarky more appreciated.

    I haven't seen any of this show, but caught the last 5 minutes last night and was moved in that Sorkin way. Yes, his writing is highly manipulative, but that's the point and we shouldn't denigrate it because he's trying to help us aspire for something better, demand more and feel feelings. He dares viewers to care, to have expectations, and so I'll send him some cocaine so my expectations can be crushed and my delusions built on a foundation of people's failings. And in that way I can face the world as it is, flawed, full of broken people and promises, and that's fine 'cuz we all die. It's Clive Owen's character dying in the boat at the end of 'Children of Men.' It's Saramago, in "Blindness,' "That's the whole world right there. The problem is we are blind."

  • special snowflake

    Finally, a decent commenter who agrees with me. People have to act so hip and jaded about honest, thought-provoking dialogue that is "Up until "help us aspire for something better, demand more and feel feelings. Yes, it's so lame to be an overly-wisened soul who does indeed dare viewers to care- but is that really something to ridicule the ones who happen to admire those qualities and Mr. Sorkin's interpretations of them? Hello, fellow 'jibans, there is still a little thing called 'humanity' on this spinning little orb we happen to inhabit for a microsecond of infinity!
    um, I would also mention Popeye's thoughtfulness with the wanting to send him cocaine part, but my friend, that may be considered illegal in your state, you would do well to check before letting your generosity get the best of you!
    So, Go Team Sorkin!!

  • John G.

    Pajiba: snarky reviews for bitchy people

    Pajiba: Babies are cute and the world is neat. Kittens!

  • Mrcreosote

    Can I politely disagree with the idea that America "used" to be great when men were men and noble journalists bravely stood up to tyrants and bullies? That's a little nostalgic bullshit because the entire Hearst empire was built on the lemoniest of yellow journalism. Yes, McCarthy was eviscerated by Murrow, but not a boatload of damage had been done, and McCarthy was his own worst enemy. I'm not saying there weren't great things in the past, but Sorkin yearns for the same era that jackholes like David Brooks do, when brave white Protestant men did wonderful things and the rest of basked in their glory. Keep in mind it's largely the Boomer generation's politicians that have led the country down it's current path so before you start hammering the current generation let's cut them some slack because the American Dream they get is pretty much going to be just that-a dream. I like his shows, but sometimes I just want to punch him in his smug ass face.

  • ,

    McCarthy was eviscerated by Joseph Welch at the Army-McCarthy hearings. Which, according to an article in a recent The New Yorker, "CBS [Murrow's network] didn't carry them. ABC did; CBS ran soap operas. The television critic of the Times, Jack Gould, wrote that ABC, not Murrow, killed McCarthy. And {Fred] Friendly later admitted that it was ABC's coverage, more than the 'See It Now' program he had produced, that led to McCarthy's demise."

  • PyD

    This is the show's biggest crime so far.
    In the FIRST 3 MINUTES of the entire show, Sorkin sets up the dramatic tension between McKenzie's sign that reads 'It Can Be' and Will saying 'It Was'.
    That right there is an AWESOME pivot around which all the drama of the show can be made to function.
    They keep refusing to use it. They need to use it every single act.
    McKenzie needs to challenge Will on his nostalgia to create something evolving and truly inspiring - McKenzie needs to CJ/Toby up and to challenge Will to become Bartlett.
    Perhaps its all part of an arc and she's currently settling for getting him on board at all and moments like the her realising about the non compete will bring about this development. But right now it seems like they are simply settling for a lesser dramatic pivot.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I haven't yet seen last night's episode, but overall I didn't necessarily read the show as nostalgic in the sense that it longs for a more "noble" time. I think it's easy for idealism to sound like nostalgia, but to me it seemed like Sorkin was more praising the pantheon of good journalism, one of those exhortations that evil prevails while good people stand around and do nothing. I also didn't see this as a generational critique - I think the point is that every generation has it's McCarthys and so the media has the cyclical choice of either cooperating with those forces or fighting them in what they think is the people's best interest. The best journalists are the ones who do. Then again, I'm one of those people who likes Sorkin, and likes his brand of idealism. I'm a little tired of world weary irony.

  • bunnyfish

    He is praising the pantheon of journalism 'before Vietnam and Watergate.' That is absurd. Watergate is the dogged pursuit of a small story because you think it stinks... and taking down government and the system. That was inspirational journalism and shamed Congress to respond to corruption and regulate campaign finance in the weak attempt to restore trust in American institutions. I find Sorkin's use of Watergate as the breaking point problematic and suggests (to me at least) that this is generational

  • John G.

    Where men were men and women were in their great shadow, but plucky so it's supposed to be even.

  • libertyftw

    You can politely disagree with this and you'd be right. Everything you said is true.

    I have to bury my face in my palm when I see this used as criticism of the show though. This is what nostalgia is. It's captured perfectly in that opening sequence. I was dumbfounded by the likes of Emily Nussbaum and other critics who completely missed the mark there.

    I know it's a Pajiba custom to hate on Garden State, but the line Zach Braff gives to Natalie Portman in the pool is especially applicable here: "Maybe that's all home is. A group of people missing the same imaginary place."

    Failing or refusing to recognize the importance of nostalgia and its effect on essentially everything - from sports to love to politics - is the critic's fault. Not Sorkin's.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Whoa. I would have loved to hear that monologue performed by a Sorkinian character.

  • While I agree with your context and about avoiding nostalgia, I would say we shouldn't expect different context from Sorkin, as he follows the writers' creed and writes what he knows. Certainly, someone else could do these themes honor, but what makes Sorkin worthwhile is not is nostalgia or his mythologizing of the white class of men, it's his desire to invite his audiences to aspire, to want more, and to do so with feeling.

  • lowercase_ryan

    you know what's effed? so far two of the main stories for this show have come from my state. So we've got that going for us...

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