Welcome to my new addiction: a TV series by HBO called The Newsroom. The first season of these series aired over summer and is slated for a second season next year. Unfortunately, it only has 10 episodes, but it’s an amazing show that I think everyone should watch.
The series was created by Aaron Sorkin, who also created the West Wing in the 90s. He had this idea to do a TV series based on the behind the scenes of a large news broadcasting network program. Think of a behind the scenes look at CNN with some dramatization added in the mix.
The series is based around the team that works on one show called News Night, anchored by Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) which has found itself in a bit of a lull. In comes Mackenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer), the best executive producer in the business and Will’s ex-girlfriend who he still hasn’t gotten over. She literally turns Will’s world upside down by taking charge of his programme (with some help of the always drunk Charlie Skinner, played by Sam Waterston). Instead of doing what everyone is doing, they come up with a plan for News 2.0: the news based on real, confirmed facts, void of sensation seeking and with the purpose to inform the US voters about what’s going on in their country.
What makes the series awesome is the fact that it is based on real events. The series entails coverage days when the BP oil rig exploded in the gulf, Congress was re-elected and when Osama Bin Laden was shot by the US military. It depicts how the news team works together to not only make the show, but also make the right choices when it comes to content, guests, angle and how to solve things when you screw up. This makes it all seem very real (without it seeming like reality TV) and having worked on a news show (that was only half as hectic as this show is) I know what it’s like to feel that buzz when you know you’ve hit a story.
And that’s another plus of the series. Despite it being about news events that have already happened, it somehow gets you sitting on the edge of your seat. When the series depicts hearing about Osama Bin Laden being killed, it feels just like when you first found out about it in real life. The series is also fast-paced, with quick, often frantic discussions. Plus it has a lot of humor in it as well. I do have to say that some of the jokes may be lost on you if you know nothing about US media or politics, but when you do, you will find so many of the conversations and angles concocted by the news team extremely funny. The series often critiques the more conservative of US politicians and that makes for some hilarious observations.
Last but not least I would like to point out that apart from an interesting storyline, a sense of humor, serious critique and a strong sense of reality, the series also comprises a great set of characters. Will McAvoy is the neurotic, slightly megalomanic TV anchor. Mackenzie McHale is desperately trying to right the wrongs she commited a few years ago. Jim Harper, a producer who followed MacKenzie to the program, falls in love with Maggie (an ambitious all-American blonde determined to make her way on her own), who unfortunately is already with Don (a self-absorbed loveable jerk) but has a hard time deciding who to be with. And then the two by far most interesting characters: Sloan Sabbith and Neal. Sloan is the program’s economist with all the brains but no social skills. Neal is the internet nerd with some of the most outrageous ideas waiting for his big break. These latter two definitely make for some laughs.
Convinced yet? No? Well then maybe you should watch the video below. It is the opening scene of the series. Yes, these are the first 10 minutes or so of the very first episode. I hadn’t even heard of this show, but aimlessly clicked a link from my Twitter, saw this and new I had to see all of it. So watch it and keep in the back of your head that the entire series is like this.
And for everyone who cannot be bothered with watching a 10 minute video, you can watch the trailer: