In no particular order…
– I no longer think Aaron Sorkin hates women. Now I think he’s never met one. There’s no other explanation for the shit that comes out of his female characters’ mouths. Does he actually think a female boss would say to someone she’s trying to hire, “I think we’re going to be good friends … No, I really do. I don’t have any friends”? (And for that matter, seriously bro? You already wrote Dana, she was fine on Sports Night, we do not need to meet her again.) Does he believe that a woman would, in the middle of a conversation with a man she doesn’t know well, begin to rant about how she thinks that he thinks she’s only hanging around in this field until she gets married? Sorkin just seems genuinely oblivious to the fact that women are people, not Insecuritybot 3000s made by a company with a perplexing business plan.
– I hate Alison Pill. God, do I hate her. Her character is annoying, but her delivery is like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. Not to mention how bad she is at acting. Her monologue about immigration sounded like it was being delivered by a nine-year-old in their first acting class. I hate her. Hate hate hate.
– So here’s something weird. I know it’s not possible, because Sorkin has never written a gay character in his life, but if this were literally any other HBO show I would think they were setting up Neal (Dev Patel) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) to be a couple. I know they’re setting up Jim and Maggie because it was literally announced (Mackenzie (and no, Sorkin, I’m not capitalizing the k, you can’t make me) instructed Jim to date Maggie in the first episode), but Neal and Jim are vibin’. And I know I’m not the only person who sees it. A friend of mine brought it up totally independent of me after watching the first episode. My hand to God this isn’t a fangirl thing, guys – this is something I legit think I’m seeing on screen, and I am confused by it.
– One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Sorkin is that he has a stable of actors he draws on regularly across projects. Josh Malina‘s first on-screen role was in A Few Good Men, and he went on to have prominent roles in Sports Night, The American President and The West Wing. Martin Sheen and Anna Deavere Smith were both in The American President and The West Wing (and they both got promoted between projects, Sheen from Chief of Staff to President and Smith from Press Secretary to National Security Advisor. It’s good to work in Aaron Sorkin’s government). Bradley Whitford was in The West Wing and Studio 60. Matthew Perry was in The West Wing and Studio 60.
Point made? Good. So I was surprised when Newsroom launched without any of the usual suspects. However, John Gallagher Jr., the guy who plays Jim, kept nagging at me. He looked familiar (and cute. did i mention cute? he’s very cute.) but I couldn’t place him. Well, imdb solved that one – Gallagher Jr. played Tyler in the West Wing season 4 opener, “20 Hours in America”. That’s the one where Toby, Josh and Donna miss the bus on a press tour in Indiana and wind up having to take buses, cars, trains and diesel-fueled-truck rides to get back to DC in time for the next work day. Tyler is one of their drivers, volunteered by the local Bartlet for America office. He takes them to the wrong train.
I think it’s cute that Sorkin likely remembered Gallagher Jr., tracked him down and offered him Jim. Or maybe Gallagher auditioned, full of good memories from his teenage gig? I don’t know. Either way, I like that he’s a familiar face from a previous Sorkin project.
– Mostly I hate every character except Neal, Jim and Charlie, the all-powerful president of ACN’s news division as played by Jack McCoy. I mean Sam Waterston. Whatever, he doesn’t need a real name, Jack McCoy forever. Anyway I hate everyone else. They’re all annoying or annoying. And I half believe that the only reason I don’t hate Neal yet is that he’s had, like, five lines total.
Oh, and Sloan’s okay. Olivia Munn has not yet offended me.
– So why am I still watching? The fucking writing. Like I said last week, Sorkin can fucking write. (And by “write” I literally mean “put words together.” I don’t mean plot or characterize or anything.) I’m engaged from minute one through minute sixty. It’s funny, sometimes incredibly so (this week’s money line: “An oil rig is sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.” “I envy it.”). I like what it says about how news should happen, although it’s worth repeating that what it advocates is already happening on shows like Rachel Maddow (hi rachel if you’re reading due to googling yourself and picking the eleven thousandth hit, so if you are, i … i love you). And I like the redemption angle. It’s a deeply flawed show, but in some ways I feel more at peace with the flaws since I know their longitudinal context in Sorkin’s work – if I were watching this as my first Sorkin, I don’t know if I could take shit like his portrayals of women. They’re really staggering. But as it is, I’m enjoying myself and will keep watching.