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Centered around a news team of a fictional cable news program called Newsnight, the show focuses on the people and the news stories and the politics involved within the cable news world. After a public meltdown during a Q&A session, Anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) returns to work to find that almost his entire staff has left him for another program at the network. Atlantis Cable News President Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) hires Will’s ex, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), to run the show.
I wasn’t sure from the first episode but the show is formatted in a way that it skips through time to cover significant events in recent news history. The news stories are real and we get a behind the scenes look at how the stories and various segments are assembled for broadcast.
Obviously the show plays up the drama and it has been said that the show doesn’t accurately depict how an actual newsrooms functions. But that’s not what I expect from a fictional series. If I had wanted an accurate look at a newsroom, I would watch a documentary on it. Having worked briefly in a newsroom myself, I can tell you that I think it’s real enough to convey a general idea of the profession and weaves enough of the personal lives of the characters to make it entertaining.
Will and MacKenzie’s past relationship was of big concern for me early on as I didn’t want it to weigh too heavily in the series. For me, it was important for it to be believable that these two would be able to find a way to work with each other in a professional setting.
Honestly, these two characters do cross that professional line but they are able to work with each other to the point where doesn’t disrupt the nightly broadcast. In this way, I feel as if it humanizes them without going overboard on the drama. I love how MacKenzie is neurotic and how Will is trying to figure out a way to forgive MacKenzie for cheating on him. It’s a nice balance to see their faults being played out in their personal lives because they are experts on producing a news program.
Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) is an associate producer at Newsnight. She was promoted because she was one of the few staff members that stuck around out of loyalty towards Will. I have to admit that I can’t quite believe that if this were a real newsroom she’d really get that kind of promotion. Production assistant, maybe. But associate producer is a leap.
In addition, I wasn’t very fond of her relationship with Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski). That storyline of a young bottom-of-the-totem-pole career girl dating an experienced executive has been played out. Plus, the whole thing where Don may not really be in love with Maggie and vice versa has me feeling indifferent about that storyline.
It also makes me frustrated to watch MacKenzie’s right-hand guy, Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.) quietly pining after Maggie. I understand the producer’s need to drag out their relationship to have us on the edge of our seats but it’s a tired old trick on the show’s part and I have to admit being totally bummed out in the season finale.
ACN’s finance guru Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) is a super smart but socially awkward analyst. However I find her cute in her own way. I like her direct approach as in she says what we’re all thinking. She’s a great supporting character but I’d like to see how the series develops her character further in the future.
Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) is the writer of Will’s blog and monitors the news scanner for stories. He’s currently trying to work his way up to being a producer.
I find it amusing that he believes in the supernatural and I really hope that he gets to report on an alien sighting or Bigfoot one day. Until then, he’s got his investigative report on internet trolling which is when a person goes on to an internet community and trashes a public figure. Through his investigations, it seems he may have contacted the mysterious figure who has been posting death threats about Will online. I’m curious to see how this story develops as everyone else is concerned about this person but Will.
All in all, I love the flow of each episode. Aaron Sorkin has this innate ability to seem relevant and witty while making me feel patriotic about America. I particularly felt it in Episode 7, titled “5/1”, where they covered the death of Osama Bin Laden by American forces. I have to admit that I didn’t really shed a tear when it happened in real life. It’s just one of those things where I knew it would eventually happen and it was just a matter of when. However, I loved how the show chronicled all of the staff’s whereabouts and how the press was given hints that something big was coming without actually having proof of what the news was.
It also gave insight into the importance of reporting the news despite the size of the audience and in that way I found the scene where Don informs the pilot on his plane to be very moving. I’m excited to see how they will cover current events in the next season.