One of the big weaknesses of the first season of The Newsroom, alongside the poor characterisation of many of the show’s women, was the often preachy tone that would accompany storylines, as the writers often struggled to balance the show’s depiction of a fearless news team with an ability to humanise the opponents to the debate, or a portrayal of the core cast as three-dimensional characters rather than simply mouthpieces. The exploration of real-world consequences and conscience attacks suffered by the team at ACN did a lot to mitigate this issue, and while the second season premiere showed promise in further exploring this storyline, this week’s episode manages to fall down the rabbit hole once again, taking a few steps backward from a lot of character progression the show has made, and delivering an unpleasant episode this week, where the bad qualities outweighed the good.
The second season premiere of The Newsroom last week hinted at a major catastrophe that engulfs the station, but buried amidst the discussions of the events that led to lawyerly intervention was the question of why Will McAvoy and the news crew would take on such a volatile story in the first place. This week’s episode dives deeper into the psyche of the individuals who comprise the news team, and their emotional and psychological state leading up to the Genoa revelation, in an episode that unfortunately brings back large chunks of previously problematic storylines, but nonetheless gives a better idea of what makes certain characters tick.
With shows such as Sports Night and The West Wing under his belt, many people were excited to see Aaron Sorkin return to television, particularly after finding big screen success with The Social Network and Moneyball. Tackling journalism, Sorkin’s The Newsroom premiered in 2012 on HBO, with a cast that included Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, and Dev Patel, and ended up receiving uneven reviews throughout the season, with most of the audience qualms coming down on his portrayal of Mackenzie and Maggie, the two key female characters on the show, who often acted out of character when engaged in romantic entanglements, which dominated much of their storylines in the first ten episodes.