Hate-watching: A bizarre phenomenon amongst TV viewers where they watch a show on a weekly basis because it drives them into a frenzy of anger and disgust. It seems as if that was the way many of us were watching season one of The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s ode to why liberals are right and everyone else can suck it. Oh, and the idea that women tripping over their feet constantly is adorable.
But a funny thing happened between the end of season one last summer and the premiere of season two last night… I bought seasons one and two of The West Wing on DVD ($10 each at Wal-Mart! How’s that for a Deal of the Day?), and the truth is that a lot of the stuff people found tiresome in Sorkin’s writing with The Newsroom has been there all along. Take his writing of women for example, C.J. trips on a treadmill while flirting with a guy in the first three minutes of the pilot, Mandy – she who the TV Trope “Mandyville” is named after – nearly runs over a senator in an over-the-top fit of spite in episode two, and in the State of the Union episode of the second season, not one, but two female characters, sit in wet paint.
But despite that context, one wonders if Sorkin heard the criticism about The Newsroom season one when developing The Newsroom season two.
Well, the first episode of the second season entitled, “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers,” begins with a more peppy arrangement of the Thomas Newman theme music and a re-edit opening titles to reflect more the behind the scenes of the titular setting and less on the “We’re as awesome as…” clips of broadcasting giants like Kronkite and Murrow. Good thing, because the tone of the new Newsroom is not good as we enter season two.
Crusading anchor Will McAvoy is being deposed by lawyer Marcia Gay Harden, and it doesn’t sound like their talking about his next contract. We hear words like “Genoa” and “war crimes” and Will’s being typically flippant about the whole affair, at least until the deposition is interrupted by Maggie Jordan, who looks less like how we normally think of Alison Pill and a little more like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” as Harden’s lawyer put it. Apparently, at some point, Maggie went to Uganda and, according to Will, “got a little messed up” and if you heard the details “you’d sit in a room and cry forever.” In the business, we call that foreshadowing.
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