Martha Thomases: News Fantasy
This past Sunday saw the Season 2 finale of the HBO series The Newsroom. When it was over, I was really happy with the season.
There are a lot of reasons to criticize The Newsroom. It’s not very realistic. The people who work for the cable news network, especially those with off-camera jobs, are much too attractive. Even the slobs are put together by stylists. Because it is an Aaron Sorkin show, characters will frequently speak in paragraphs, something hardly anyone does in the real world, and certainly not at work in a fast-paced newsroom, where anything more than a grunt or a nod takes too much time.
It’s a world where we know a character has been emotionally damaged because she is female and she cuts and dyes her long blonde hair into a cute red pixie cut. This is so shocking that the network’s lawyer doesn’t want her to testify at a lawsuit. It’s a world where women wear phenomenally high heels to work, and keep them on all day, even when they are at the office for 16 hours or more.
It’s a world in which a major news decision, which we are supposed to consider to be courageous, involves reading the AP wire and seeing that one story might be more important than another.
In other words, it’s a fantasy. I enjoy fantasy. I enjoy HBO fantasy. True Blood and Game of Thrones are my idea of fun times. Why shouldn’t I like The Newsroom?
If you don’t like it, I understand. It’s a series pitched to big city media junkies, even more than The West Wing. It’s easy to claim it’s a liberal fantasy, but if it was truly progressive, the women would be more than caricatures. The Jane Fonda character (a joy!) is the only woman not defined by her relationship to a man (unless we count her son). And she is played for comic relief.
The big pay-off at the end of the last show (SPOILERS! if you’re squeamish) was when the lead anchor, played by Jeff Daniels, proposed to his executive producer (and former fiancée) Emily Mortimer. It was a surprise because they hadn’t been dating, because they hadn’t been flirting, and they certainly hadn’t been sleeping together – at least not recently. He realized he loved her because of who she is and how she lives.
It’s as shocking as the Red Wedding, and way more romantically satisfying.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman
SUNDAY: John Ostrander