Controversial topics will result in controversy, that’s a given, but what many critics ignored about The Newsroom was that, rather than explain the shortcomings of the media, Aaron Sorkin exposed its brutal reality in an unapologetic way.
During its three-season run, HBO’s The Newsroom has been criticized, idolized, and debated to death. That’s what you get when you target every media outlet and the way that they deliver news; ratings always come before stories. Throughout the three seasons, The Newsroom demonstrated how our media chooses to run glorified stories for higher ratings rather than providing us with “accurate” information that is far more important in the long run.
Aaron Sorkin has also been criticized for how he writes “sexist” dialogue for men and women: men are strong leaders, a little douche-y, and driven while women are goofy, clumsy, and willing followers. MacKenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer) was willing to sacrifice her career in order to do her job. Maggie Jordan (played by Allison Pill) held a dying boy in her hands, had a small breakdown, and eventually came out of it by being one of the most driven characters on the show. Leona Lansing (played by Jane Fonda) basically had everyone wrapped around her finger, as any character played by Jane Fonda should. Say what you will, but Sorkin knows how to write for women. Of course, it is clear that men and women have very different experiences in the work place; but, news flash (no pun intended), men and women are, unfortunately, still not equal in a work setting, and women have to work harder to get where they want to go.
Anyone near a computer in the past week might have read or heard about the controversy surrounding the rape topic in the second to last episode, which revolved around producer Don (played by Thomas Sadoski) unwillingly interviewing a rape victim — a student who was using her blog to target out her rapist since she knew that the authorities would do minimal work in the investigation. Don was told that his job would no longer be secure if he did not get the victim and her attacker on air, face to face, debating. Feeling uncomfortable, Don wanted to avoid the entire interview, so he met the victim to talk her out of it rather than do his job. The conversation between the two consisted of Don telling the victim that she would be “slut-shamed” because she was ruining someone’s — the attacker’s — life. As disturbing as Don’s persuasion sounded, it was clear that Sorkin was not attacking the victim, but rather our news media for the way they handle real stories and real people in order to get ahead in their ratings.
As an avid The Newsroom watcher, I will not only miss the cast, one of the most amazing scorings on television, and the stories I truly empathize with, but I will also miss the honesty and the “cut the BS” tone of the entire series. While watching The Newsroom, I didn’t feel as though Aaron Sorkin was trying to draw me in with huge plot twists, special effects, or unnecessary deaths. Instead he gave me the option of knowing the truth behind why, how, and what I was receiving through my news media outlets; and, for that, Mister Sorkin, I say, “Thank you.”