Editor's Note: When writing this article I really pondered if I should or even could keep it completely spoiler-free. I decided that I could not effectively make my point without vaguely talking about some specific events and moments. However, if you haven't been watching, I hope the few things that you will know after reading this will just help push you to watch and not affect your enjoyment of the show.
When I first started watching The Newsroom, I kept having mixed feelings about it. If you ready my thoughts on the first two episodes, you will know that at first I liked it but I didn't love it, and I had a lot of problems with it. However, I felt like I couldn't stop watching. It has never been appointment television like some other shows (hello, Breaking Bad) but I always wanted to eventually see it. This weekend, I had the opportunity to catch up on several episodes and I was surprised and impressed by how much I liked it. It felt like a lot of the problems with the show had begun to settle and go away, and I found much of it to be less annoying than I did at first and I am becoming something I never thought I would be…a true fan of the show.
Don't get me wrong, I still have some problems with the show. The characters have become slightly less annoying, but still could use some work. I would be really happy if Mackenzie would stop having a hysterical breakdown every other episode, because I just don't believe that a woman with her level of professionalism would allow this to happen…or at the very least she would do it behind closed doors and not in front of her colleagues. I also really like the stories that focus more on the "work" than relationships, and really hope they continue with Neal's current story, because it one of my favorites. I love the idea of seeing what journalists really have to go through to get stories and find that must more interesting than the office romance stories. Also, I find that some of the situations that they put the characters in are very convenient. How many times are they going to be at work on a Sunday, or all together at a party when breaking news just happens to well, happen? There are also moments that are very contrived, and I can really feel the writers inventing conflict and problems. It is not that things just happen, it is that situations are very obviously set up so they can hit certain moments and that frustrates me. I am not saying that you have to be shocked and surprised by everything that happens in a show, but I like it much more when things happen naturally.
However, I do have to say, that perhaps I shouldn't be so critical because when The Newsroom hits those moments that are set up they are usually very strong and emotional moments. One of the aspects of the show that I was the most skeptical of at first what the fact that they were using real stories. I was worried that that the stories and relationships would feel disjointed – which I do feel is true. You never know if Don and Maggie are together or not in a certain episode, and that makes it difficult to get invested in them and in their story. It doesn't feel fluid and lacks some punch. On the other hand, they make up for this in the emotional moments they are able to pull off with the re-living and re-telling of actual news stories. They are stories that we all lived through and have our own experiences with and connections too and one of the things the show is the most successful at is making those powerful. The one that sticks in my mind the most is the episode that revolves around the killing of Osama Bin Laden. They way they recreated that night and that story, helped me to relive that important moment in American history. I stopped for an hour to really think about it and think about all of the people that were affected and in the different ways it affected our country and once again said, I felt proud. I felt that same pride that seems to be lacking so much in our disenfranchised country and I said God Bless America for the fact we were able to pull that off. The way it ended made me think about the impact of that day and that event in a way that I otherwise wouldn't have. It was a beautiful moment and a beautiful episode and in many ways, I am thankful that I watched it.
In addition, it is a show that when I finish watching it, I feel smarter and more informed. I know that many critics have problems with The Newsroom because they believe that it is preachy and idealistic and a soapbox for Aaron Sorkin's worldview. This is probably true and if you don't believe that tabloid magazines are evil, that money corrupts, that news has become dumbed down, etc. it might not be the show for you. It is very strong in its principles and if you disagree with them, I can understand how it would be wholeheartedly annoying. On the other hand, at least it has a point of view. It is not that you have to agree with it, but for me it has become informative and entertaining at the same time. I wouldn’t say that it compares to The West Wing in this respect, and as I said before, has some very large flaws that I don't believe that show ever did. However, unless you want to re-watch every episode of The West Wing (which thanks to a few users is a venture I may be embarking on very soon) it is a good second option and has become more and more worth your time.
I must caveat this and say that it took me until the fifth episode to solidify these feelings, as I think perhaps took the show this long to really find its footing and for all of the writers and actors to really gel together. I am really looking forward to next season, because I hope and feel by then, they will have worked through some of the problems and really focus on the aspects about it that are great. It is rare to find good shows on television, and I was skeptical of this one at the start, but now, I believe it is worth the time and I hope that you do and/or will as well.