The Newsroom Ep.1 “We Just Decide To”


Will McAvoy is placed in a rather precarious situation.  He is, by some obligation, partaking in a three-person panel of speakers at Northwestern University, interestingly placed right between a Democrat and Republican.  As the host of the Newsroom on the fictional Atlantis Cable Network nightly primetime slot, it is imperative that Will keep his political views private, which he seems to have no difficulty doing during the discussion, through the use of vague and evasive responses.

Perhaps the trigger is the Republican calling Obama a socialist, or the professor’s aggressive persistence.  Maybe it’s the vertigo medication he is taking (which explains the random woman holding up signs in the audience), but when the moderator holds Will for a real response to a student’s question about what makes America the greatest country in the world.  His answer is a long-winded, unpatriotic monologue, which clearly states why, “It’s not,”, addressing with both political parties and then a barrage of alarming stats. Needless to say, the rant goes viral.

Will’s monologue is the backdrop of The Newsroom.  It’s preachy, poignant and attacks the misconception Americans have of themselves.  It’s a bold statement for the need for change and being that change. Yet Will goes on hiatus after his tirade in hopes of becoming old news.

Upon his returns to the ACN studio, after his vacation, Will sees much has changed in consequence to his earnest speech. His young, go-getter executive producer Don has jumped ship to a new show, taking with him his team of staff, with the exception of a loyal few.  One of the few who stays is Don’s romantic interest Maggie, a clumsy-in-an-adorable-way, self-conscious new grad working her way up the ladder as Will’s secretary.  This mutiny allows for the introduction of all the key players of the show, beginning with Will’s boss and manager Charlie, who strategically brings in Mackenzie, an old colleague of both Charlie and Will and an obvious former fling of the latter.  We briefly learn about her impacts on Will as they interact and discuss their new working relationship.  Obviously Will is not over it, considering he willingly gives the network back money from his contract in order to gain control over Mackenzie’s job security.  We also meet Jimmy, the young and promising assistant producer Mackenzie has brought along with her to the network.

My interest was dwindling fairly quickly after Will’s tirade, but was brought back up right around the time Mackenzie showed up at ACN, and I immediately recognized her as the not-so-random woman in the audience that Will kept looking at prior to his rant at the university lecture.  Mystery woman no longer, but her street credentials amongst her peers, quick thinking, and British world news correspondence entitled her to some of my interest.  Even her advice to Maggie about her love quarrels with Don was more endearing than patronizing - a reflection and association that Mackenzie was once there herself.  She is quite easily the most captivating and the cornerstone character of this show.

The love triangle subplot between the douchebag Don, the nice girl Maggie, and constantly overlooked Jimmy could not be more cliché, but watching Don and Jimmy beat their chests and fire witty jabs is sure to be entertaining.

The foundation for The Newsroom is set with the build-up and execution of breaking the story of the BP oil spill as an environmental disaster, and not merely a search-and-rescue mission. Yes, this is the BP oil spill of 2010.  ACN and the The Newsroom will be reporting about every major news story that has transpired in the past two years. In structuring the show this way, Aaron Sorkin has secured himself at least one season on HBO.

If the YouTube release of the pilot episode was not compelling enough, Sorkin and HBO are brilliantly targeting this show to kids in college. Those idealistic poli-sci, communications and J-school students who want to be the Dons, Margarets and Jimmys in a few years will idolize and find inspiration in these characters, as they strive to provide accurate, and balanced investigative coverage of current events. They won’t worry about losing advertising and as a show, crush apathy and cynicism in media and empower the generation with news outside of TMZ and Fox and entertainment, with substance instead of fear-mongering. In other words, Aaron Sorkin is trying to make The Newsroom follow in The West Wing’s footsteps.

Maybe this 20/20 hindsight retrospect will evoke the in viewers the mentality that we can be the change we want to see in this world as a society. I’m apathetic, but I will tune in to find out.

Vakeesh Velummylum

Films are far more than an escape for me, it is the most expressive medium of art. It contains many permutations and combination of possibilities and I like to examine it all with a fine tooth comb and see how well they bind together. So with much enthusiasm I share with you this keen interest.