“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. Either that or they’re watching The Newsroom.”
-James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Explication: My primary aim with this series is twofold. One aspect will be a recapitulation of the “dramatic events” that “occur” on season two of HBO’s The Newsroom, an hourlong drama created by Aaron Sorkin. The second aspect will be a rigorous deconstruction of the emotion known as “hate,” the only thing I feel when I watch HBO’s The Newsroom. What particularizes The Newsroom from everything else in the pantheon of my hatred? Is my reaction truly “hate” in the classical sense of the word, or an unclassified psychosomatic reaction resembling hate, borne singularly and immaculately from the arrangement of apparent world stimuli that form The Newsroom? How the GD fuck did this show get a second season? These are the questions I am asking. I am sincerely frightened to learn their answers.
The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 1: The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers
The first thing I do, I’s hate The Newsroom‘s new title sequence, which I assume is titled “Coffee, Clocks, and Paperwork,” because of the intense concentrations of coffee, clocks, and paperwork that fall dead against my eyeballs as I watch it. The gist-if there is indeed gist at all, because the images reek of arbitrariness–seems to be that this is a depiction of a typical day for a member of the News Night team. You buy your coffee, look at a clock, and shuffle papers. You spill your coffee, recheck the clock, and reshuffle papers. The entire world tunes in to hear agent provocateur Will McAvoy obliterate the status quo with quips and grumpiness. Begin show.
(Worst of all, the title sequence is actually a glaring improvement over its perilously sanctimonious predecessor. The isolated ordeal, in retrospect, foreshadows the whole ordeal of the premiere, which, above all, wants to hammer the point home that Aaron Sorkin has read, processed, and judiciously repaired every critique that every sane person leveled against The Newsroom. Except nuh uh. Except still horrible. Now begin show.)
Time Elapsed ~60 seconds. Hate Index: 7 out of Hate.
The best (read: worst (read: not even close to the worst)) part of The Newsroom is the complicated revisionism that the show is structured around. In lay terms, the fake and current News Night reports on real past events as they should have been reported on in the first place, really, but not really, but also really. The first scene sets this up perfectly, grounding the audience firmly in a flash forward within the fake real past of the show’s present. Will McAvoy is discussing the “Genoa Incident” to the team of corporate lawyers who have been hired to protect him because he’s the most provocative anything in the history of everything.
To sum up the future present of the show’s fake past, News Night reported that the military was WHO CARES in WHEREVER and if he’s indicted Will McAvoy will have to give overwrought soliloquies for the rest of his life. These are the stakes for the whole season, until Alison Pill walks in looking like no makeup David Bowie circa 1975. So now I need to know what happened to her in Uganda that made her dress like that, or else I will die. Because when a human being experiences trauma, the first thing that goes is their fashion sense. This is what Freud referred to as, “Psychology.”
Time Elapsed: ~5 minutes. Hate Index: 64 out of Hate.
Flashback from flash forward. Time to learn how the “Genoa Incident” got incedentitized (hashtag: urban dictionary). Just kidding let’s spend twenty minutes reminding the audience how provocative Will McAvoy is because he called the Tea Party “the American Taliban.” Bill Maher wouldn’t touch that invective with a ten foot monologue pole; only McAvoy tienes the cajones. All of McAvoy’s corporate honchos are pissed because everyone is illegally downloading all their napsters and they can’t sue Netflix because McAvoy incited the wrath of the blogosphere. So ten minutes of that.
Time Elapsed: ~15 minutes. Hate Index: Whole Bunch out of Hate.
But, wait, THE REBELS JUST TOOK TRIPOLI. Somewhere there is math to express how little I care about “news” when it really and currently is happening in contrast to how zero much I care about “news” when it is fake and not currently happening on The Newsroom. But I don’t have access to that math. What I do have is Aaron Sorkin proving, no doubts, that he is not a misogynist. He accomplishes this by having Emily Mortimer fix a voice over flub, and then a circuitry problem, within two minutes of each other. Everyone claps for her like she just fit the square peg into the square hole after nap time. Now she is finally a person, and I can sleep at night.
What else happens? Don shows up looking, as always, like he’s about to “hit up Meatpacking.” Jim and Pam make eyes at each other. Jeff Daniels has his assistant look up musicals on Wikipedia. Just normal stuff. Until Bowtie informs Will that he WON’T BE ABLE TO REPORT ON THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11, which is REAL 2013’s FAKE 2011 9/11. Will is like, “whatev bro that’s chill,” and he teleports home to listen to Van Morrison and drink whiskey and smoke pot because he is s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d o-u-t. Nobody rocks my gypsy soul like the Mac.
Jim follows Mitt Romney to New Hampshire because Pam won’t date him. Drone strikes and Occupy Wall Street are foreshadowed at lengths that make you want to join a drum circle and get remote bombed by Buster Bluth. Will abides jingoism to protest them taking away his 9/11. I scream, “THERE’S TWENTY MINUTES LEFT OF THIS,” at my computer screen.
Time Elapsed: ~35 minutes. Hate Index: Stormy out of Hate.
What else. Dev Patel goes on a two-hour long Occupy Wall Street side quest, where he meets an alluring anthropology PhD candidate from NYU, like those exist, and Aaron Sorkin treats us to the ultimate depiction of liberal youth movements: spirit fingers. Other Don from HIMYM tells new Jim (Plop?) that he has the “Genoa Incident” deets and Season 2 is a GO. Zulu.
Pam Alison Pill and Roy Don break up because a tourist videotaped Alison Pill confessing her love for Jim Halpert and put it on Youtube. If Aaron Sorkin isn’t the master of dialogue, he is certainly the master of the YouTube ex machina. Plotting! Emotionally, it’s the worst breakup of my entire life.
Bringing everything full circle, we return to the lawyers from the beginning. Now they’re grilling Emily Mortimer, who mouths some of Sorkin’s self-aware, fourth wall arguments for roughly five Candy Crush levels. Everything ends, and everything hurts. Cut to Jeff Daniels posing in the hall like the fifth member of Creed. Cut to me cutting myself.
Time Elapsed: Eternity. Hate Index: Hate out of Hate.
We are all Will McAvoy. Good night.