I used to love The West Wing. As a teenaged boy I would stay up with my family to watch President Bartlett solve the world’s problems. Then I watched the whole series right through again on DVD. I was a married man in my middle-twenties at that stage though, which means I had less of an excuse because I still loved it.
I used to joke that Bartlett was a Jesus character. Then I became a Christian and slowly realised that he was a Jesus character. His sacrifice? Living with us compromising humans with patience until he would eventually set the world free with a striking piece of rhetoric and a creative policy solution.
Now I can’t stand The West Wing.
Like so many who doubt, it was evangelism that forced me to confront the crisis. I tried to convert my wife to the world of The West Wing and had to turn it off after the first scene. Toby is on a plane and he schools an air-hostess on the safety of mobile phones, in part because he’d know since his brother was an astronaut.
Now everyone is very excited about Aaron Sorkin’s newest program, Newsroom. It is truly horrendous.
It has all the errors of The West Wing. It has a near-perfect male lead whose only problem is that he is grumpy because he is so damn idealistic. It has a supporting cast of young people proving themselves capable of punching way above their weight and all of them are amazingly bright. Female characters exist to make the lead character look great. And most crucially, the problems of American society can be resolved simply by following through on our idealistic gut-instinct.
Of course, if the world’s problems can be resolved with simple solutions, then that means that the world’s problems are simple. But the reality is that the world’s problems are complex, even America’s problems. That is the reason the problems haven’t been solved.
2 Broke Girls is a bad television show. But its charming in its willingness to push the boundaries of rudeness the small amount that you are allowed to push it. It won’t harm anyone, even though it sags with crude jokes based around stereotypes and less-than-subtle allusions to masturbation.
Newsroom is a truly horrendous television programme. I have now watched three episodes. It is as bad as The West Wing and worse again. The preposterous, rapid-fire dialogue that bears no resemblance to the way human beings speak is still there. The physical beauty of every character, including the office computer nerd is still there. The astonishing moral and intellectual brilliance of the lead character is still there. The news anchor drinks Stella Artois. That shows you how sophisticated an American is. He makes everything simple by talking quickly and passionately. I do that when I preach on Sunday mornings and the world remains stubbornly complex. But I didn’t finish college at 19, qualify as a lawyer at 21 and then work for the Brooklyn prosecutor securing a 94% prosecution rate before becoming a news superstar. In one particularly ridiculous bit of speech, the quirky eccentric manager of the publicly listed news company that is currently deciding that ratings don’t matter anymore is a man in his late 60’s who uses the phrase “douchebaggery”.
My dad is in his late 60’s. He doesn’t usually say anything rude and when he does, it certainly isn’t the word “douchebag”.
That’s why he runs a sole-tradership and the imaginary fellow with the bow-tie is the boss of a big imaginary fantasy news station, I suppose.
Newsroom hates reality, despises complexity and does so while being marketed as if it is talking about the real world in an intelligent fashion.
Go watch New Girl with an easy conscience and call bullshit on this fancy, glossy turd.
Your Correspondent, “FACTS ARE THE CENTRE” of this analysis