The Newsroom Pilot: A Review
I know Newsroom has received mixed reviews. If anything, people hate it or they love it. They can’t get past the first five minutes or the tirade, they can’t get through it, they can’t empathize.
But let me now make a case for one of the few shows on television that has made me feel completely raw with hope and passion for journalism and news. Let me make a case for a show that made me tear up, gave me goosebumps, and showed me passionate people who love their craft. Let me make a case for a show so brilliantly shot and cast, cinematicly poetic in a way most television is not, that you will forget the negative reviews.
The truth is, you have to watch this show with a clear mind and open perspective. There’s nothing worse than expecting failure (which is different, and worse, from expecting the best). The truth is, you have to make up your own mind - but either way, let me make a case for an eloquent show that knows no bounds. Fast paced and passionately honest, The Newsroom is a show that can only ring true once you engulf yourself in all 73 minutes.
HBO’s latest show, written by Aaron Sorkin, is anything but ordinary. The first ten minutes will show you that - a tirade about how America isn’t the best country in the world (a dangerous thing to challenge) is risque, even for a fictional show.
But the dialogue, while slightly preach-y, is beyond emotional and powerful. It rings true in a way most people will not want to accept - journalism has steered away from quality and the Newsroom’s apparent desire to fix that and create a popular and good news show elicits passion from all involved (and yes, even Will McAvoy, the anchor).
Sorkin has a tendency to push our emotional buttons, but this show’s dialogue is far from any emotional manipulation. The dialogue is organic and rough, oftentimes not sugar coated as anything it should not be. Sure, the initial tirade was rough, but how many people were already thinking that? And how many people now agree? The blogs on the web say that plenty agree.
The acting, of course, is one step above stellar. And you know what, yes, yes there is a “great while dominant male” that leads the show. But don’t forget to look at the powerful female that more often than not stands up for her spot in the newsroom and stands up to McAvoy. If anything, the show reflects the fact that females are still not professionally equivalent to males. We still earn less for the same jobs and have to fight harder not to be called “bitches” when we exert our control. Of course, this is an argument for later, but the reason why I don’t have a problem with this male dominance is because it reflects what is happening in the industry today! Journalism schools might be dominated with females, but males dominate the industry! And the reason I don’t have an issue with this is that the female executive producer, MacKenzie, is a strong, independent, fiery and oftentimes dominant female. At it’s very best, television should reflect the reality of a situation with grace and poise. There’s nothing wrong with Sorkin doing just that.
So drop the claims of sexism everywhere in the show. Yeah, there’s sexism in a Newsroom. Oh, and there’s also racism. Not every workplace is as idealistic as television leads us to believe. Guess what - sexism still exists in the workplace, and any show trying to reflect that with a just-as-prominent female should not be chastised for its decisions.
In many ways, Mackenzie, very much the optimist of the show, brings the hopeful dialogue that makes the show so eloquent. I would usually have issues with the fact that one show can be so optimistic, but it is mirrored by the skepticism of McAvoy in a way that the views are balanced on a fine scale. Additionally, optimists in journalism exist. You’re reading one right now. There are many people who strive for excellence and a new form of journalism in their workplace nowadays. Finally, MacKenzie’s character offers journalists everywhere someone to adore on the show. She is so fervently passionate and in love with the craft of journalism that there’s no way not to love her commitment.
And while people despise Jeff Daniels’ character, McAvoy, it is apparent that his story line and the transformation he could possibly undergo, no matter how slight, is something that viewers will stick around for.
But all of everything I’ve just discussed is second to how the show made me feel. When I finished watching, I was raw with hope. I was reminded why I am studying journalism. I felt empowered, I felt optimistic, I felt on fire with the passion that jumped from the screen. There’s no show as honest and as optimistic and as potent on television right now. Sorkin’s Newsroom is television at its best. And let me tell you, I have seen a lot of television.
# aaron sorkin # newsroom # the newsroom # jeff daniels # tv news # tv review # tv blog # TV Critic # tv recap # tv critique # emily mortimer # hbo # oncriticism
When I heard about Best Friends Forever, the NBC comedy starring Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, I did not watch it. The show was getting plenty of buzz on the blogs and I saw the ads everywhere, but I never really bothered. I love comedy, so in retrospect my decision does not make any sense. The show seemed peculiar to me, though, and I never really gave it a chance.
However, one fateful Friday, when the remaining two episodes were aired on NBC, I was in front of the television. And I happened to watch it. And I don’t think my life will ever be the same because of it.
At first, I don’t think I gave the show a fair chance. The ads made it seem weird and I didn’t need another television show on my plate. Plus, the buzz of the #SAVEBFF hashtag on twitter kind of made me mad. But for better or for worse, I decided to tune in for the last two episodes and - even without any background or knowledge of the plot - I fell in love with a show that was such a pure, organic and dedicated expression of friendship that, after one hour, I did not want to let it go.
Jessica and Lennon, two improvisers from UCB, are some of the funniest ladies I have ever seen. The best part about them, though, is that they’re really friends. From episode one, you can tell that their friendship is more than friendship - they’re soul mates, and they’re just like me and my best friend. Fights happen, but everyone loves everyone and everyone loves food and cinnamon rolls (the truest fact of life, if we’re being honest).
The show, above all, is honest and optimistically bubbly in a way that television has not touched on. In that way, it reminds me a little of Parks and Recreation. But BFF is different - there’s something about these two women (in combination with the leading man, Luka Jones) that you can’t not love if you give the show a chance.
In fact, that’s what I think all critics and viewers need to do is give the show a fair chance. It’s a show that’s well written, hilarious and vivacious from every way you examine it. Now that the show is cancelled, we can only hope that one day in the future, these two will reunite to write another show. I made the mistake of not watching it once and that was one time too many.
But what I love most about this show is that Jessica and Len feel like my best friends and they remind me of exactly how me and my best friend behave. It’s a real (funny) show written by true, funny best friends. When I found out the show was cancelled, it was like losing best friends I had just made. And it made me sad.
(courtesy of popculturepolarbear, sign this treaty if you agree!)
# popculturepolarbear # nbc bff # lennon parham # jessica st clair # ucb # ucbt # television # tv news # tv review # tv blog # TV Critic # tv critique # best friends forever # nbc # save bff # luka jones
Granted I might not be the best judge of this CW drama, but here I go after just eleven episodes. And what became clear to me in the pilot was that if anything, The Secret Circle was clever mix of The Vampire Diaries and Twilight. Perhaps some other show was added in there as well. The Secret Circle is one heck of an addicting show, but it’s been done before and it’s really nothing new.
# the vampire diaries # the secret circle # cw # the cw # twilight # teen romance # magic # forests # television # tv # television recap # tv recap # tv critic # tv critique # On Criticism
Parks and Recreation is one of the shows I wish more people knew about. If their recent few episode shows viewers anything, it is that this once-unknown show is really sprinting up the hill of success. Few comedies compared to Amy Poehler’s brilliant creation at this point in the race, and you can quote me on that.
# parks and rec # Parks and Recreation # amy poehler # aziz # parks # recreation # television # On Criticism # recap # parks recap # brilliant # i love this show # amy effing poehler # tv critic # television recap
(First published in the Huffington Post on 27 February 2012)
As the Academy Awards are across the globe and in the middle of the night, I imposed an assignment on myself to write an inaugural running commentary on our favourite awards show of the year.
Somehow I convinced my wife to stay up…
I really like this! Well written, well done. Love the part about Angelina.
# oscars # oscars12 # academy awards # On Criticism # tv review # tv critic # critic # review # huffington post # televsion
Did last night’s Oscars celebrate conservative values? (Was that why they were so bad?)
I don’t think that’s why they were so bad. I think the movies that were honored last night were movies that were stereotypically Oscar-worthy movies instead of movies that took a risk and brought something new to the realm of film.
# oscars # oscars12 # conservative # values # left wing # last years oscars # academy awards # oscars11 # nominations # winners # best picture # tv review # tv critic # critic # review # criticism # On Criticism