I have to disagree with Freddie — I think it’s possible to dislike Aaron Sorkin’s television shows and still think that the biggest problem in liberalism isn’t other liberals. I’ve watched about two hours of West Wing and couldn’t stand it, but when Newsroom came around, I wanted to give it a solid shot, especially because it combined media and politics, two of my favorite things.
Newsroom starts in the Spring of 2010. I made it to the 2010 elections (3 episodes) before I couldn’t watch any more. What killed it for me wasn’t just the oh-too-clever, machine gun dialog, the Olbermann-like preachiness of the despicable yet boring Peter Pan main character, or the singularity of the pacing (frenetic). It was the notion that, on election night 2010, the characters in this show would have somehow known that the biggest bust-up the teatards were going to visit on us was the debt ceiling fight. When they were interviewing a newly elected teabilly Congressman, the shock-horror on their faces as he said he wouldn’t vote for any increases in the debt limit was just too ridiculous to bear. In November, 2010, everyone knew that a teabagger Congress was going to create some kind of shitstorm, but I can’t name a single one of us who knew exactly what form it would take.
If you’re going to create a show that touches reality as much as Newsroom does, your fantasy needs to be at least slightly believable in the areas where your audience has a real-world frame of reference. That scene in Newsroom had about as much of a relationship to politics as a scene in Scrubs has to the practice of medicine.
In general, when you invent a show that is essentially an exercise in 20/20 hindsight, you need to use a deft, subtle hand. As a writer, Sorkin has none of that. He’s a fucking blunderbuss, and what he’s doing, as Alex Pareene nails in the column Freddie didn’t like, is sharing “the totally correct opinions he would have had about various things” back in 2010. It’s the form, not the content, that turns me off. I don’t hate his liberalism, I simply dislike the insufferable, smug, preachy vehicle he uses to deliver it.
Update: As many pointed out in the comments, LOD did talk about the debt ceiling on election night. So much for that example. Either I am a candidate for self-harm or I need to watch more MSNBC. Jesus.