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On Sunday night HBO’s "The Newsroom" had its series finale and I
breathed a big sigh of relief, had a shot of whiskey and threw my ACN cap in
the air. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the show – because I loved it when it began
and stuck with it for the past three seasons – but I increasingly found myself
hate-watching it and ranting about it after every episode, cursing myself for
devoting another hour of my life to something that was ultimately so
unsatisfying. It was like I had a "Newsroom" hangover every Monday morning.
I’m not doubting the quality of the show – I give creator and
writer Aaron Sorkin credit for tackling some important issues and trying to
give us insight into the process of news gathering. I felt the writers did a
good job of weaving real events into the fictional workings of a cable-news
show, and it was fascinating seeing those stories from the viewpoint of the
media. I may have even learned a thing or two about journalistic ethics.
But there was so much I found frustrating about the series. I
felt the cast wasn’t diverse enough. The relationships all felt sterile and
robotic. The female characters all seemed a little too neurotic and jumpy, and always
appeared only as sidekicks to the male characters. (I yelled a big ‘Aha!’ today
after the contents of Sorkin’s Sony hacked emails were published and he said some
things about male actors having a more difficult job and being held to a higher
standard than female actors. Humph.) (Yes, I read those emails. I said I may have learned a thing or two about
I was hoping the series would redeem itself with its final episode, and it looks like they tried since everything was tied up so neatly with a bow.
But the final two episodes told me that it was time for the
series to go. First off, there was that ick-inducing, victim-shaming rape plot
in the second-to-last episode. The storyline involved a young college woman who
had been raped on campus. She was being interviewed by producer Don Keefer
about a website she’d started where victims could publicly name their
Right from the start it felt wrong. I’m aware of Sorkin’s
reputation for creating controversy with his shows, but this felt so hostile
and creepy. Don was acting like a jerk, and was more concerned with the
reputation of the accused perpetrators than of the plight of the student
victim. When he arrogantly left her dorm room with a flippant wave of his hand
I was praying he’d get hit by a bus on his way back to the station. (His
girlfriend, ACN’s financial analyst Sloan Sabbith, might be a little sad if
that happened but we’d never know since she never changes her facial expression.)
I was hoping the series would redeem itself with its final
episode, and it looks like they tried since everything was tied up so neatly
with a bow. Will MacAvoy and MacKenzie McHale find out they’re having a baby, Jim
Harper finally tells Maggie Jordan he loves her, Neal Sampat quietly returns to
his desk in the newsroom after hiding out in South America and Don finds out he
didn’t indirectly kill Charlie Skinner with his refusal to do the campus rape
story. Charlie’s widow gives Don one of her late-husband’s ties, and Will plays
guitar and sings! These wacky kids are going to be okay after all.
The episode opened with MacKenzie finding out she’s pregnant
while on a phone call with her doctor outside the chapel at Charlie’s funeral.
She goes inside to tell Will, which takes us to the first of many flashbacks
and ends with Will in the present, grinning in the church. I guess this was so
we didn’t have to be so sad about Charlie dying, but I felt cheated and wished
that they’d have left the funeral scene alone so I could be sad for a minute.
Although in hindsight I guess that really sums up my feelings about the show
ending – a death of something once beloved that I can’t feel too badly about.