On Monday (Jan. 13), HBO announced that "The Newsroom" would be renewed for a third and final season. The initially celebrated and now actively maligned drama has one last try to deliver the magic that was so promising in those opening minutes of the pilot.
It seemed possible things could turn around late in Season 2, with the shockingly good episode "Red Team III," but the recent finale rendered the show nearly unwatchable. Hoping for a return to what makes a Sorkin dramas great, here is a list that scratches the surface of ways "The Newsroom" can improve.
Allow some characters of to develop outside the repugnant-to-incompetent spectrum ...
Of course, in Sorkin's world, men usually align themselves with their own kind while women find themselves struggling. (See: "Fix that pesky women problem.") At least a little empathy is necessary for us to keep giving a crap about the show. But, perhaps more importantly, the problem is that it becomes increasingly unbelievable that so many of these people are perpetually getting in their own and (each other's) way on account of stubbornness. Sometimes it feels like a million Aaron Sorkins are just running around in different costumes, sort of like a self-righteous version of "Being John Malkovich."
... specifically the once-promising Maggie Jordan.
As a wide-eyed intern, quickly promoted to associate producer as a result of her loyalty, it seemed "The Newsroom" would -- at least in part -- focus on Maggie's resilience under pressure and eventual transition from naive young girl to grown-up woman (and key member of the "News Night Team"). Unfortunately, Maggie's stumbling and stuttering transformed into anger, aggression, immaturity and foolishness. Her terrible wig and the (mostly offensive) "Africa incident" were too self-involved to ever be sympathetic.
While you're at it, fix that pesky women problem ...
Would it be so difficult to allow female characters to participate in some journalism like all the self-impressed male characters? Our own Maureen Ryan put it: "The twin foundations of the series are that men commit acts of brave journalism and women help them do that, and that any number of attractive women find the pompous Will attractive enough to date (or in MacKenzie's case, obsess over)."
... and give us more Olivia Munn.
Munn (Sloan) is by far the greatest part of "The Newsroom." Her patent exasperation, quick wit and expert comic timing are consistently the best part of the show. And sometimes the only thing still tolerable about it.
The race problem could use some major adjustment, too.
Sorkin's dismissive treatment of individuals of color is not only aggravatingly obvious, but makes little sense in such a liberal setting. Consider Season 2 as the characters deal with the "Africa incident." As Vulture wrote, it "turned Gary into a punchline, Kendra into a token, a racial slur into fodder, and African children into treacle." Gary has been consistently marginalized and disregarded as someone who seems to only be valued for his dealings with Uganda ... which still somehow became about Jordan, instead.
Ditch the out-of-touch-with-technology schtick.
There is constant talk of people confused about social media to the extent that it seems like Neal Sampat is probably the only person who knows how to login to Facebook. An entire subplot revolves around Will's incompetence with Twitter. These people work in MEDIA. Okay, it's TV and not the Internet, but a 20-something who works in a newsroom of any sort who believes "LOL" means "Lots Of Love" (Jim Harper) is not realistic. FOAFRJ: Figure Out A Funnier Running Joke.
Stop pitting everyone against one another so deliberately ...
Okay, fine. There has to be interpersonal drama beyond the moral chaos so persistently imparted by the ethics of reporting the news. But it doesn't have to be so constant or so catty. There was Don and Jim, Maggie and Lisa, Mac and Will ... everyone is better, when their biggest opposition is bad news.
... and get rid of (or at least place less excessive focus on) all of the romantic relationships.
The entire newsroom does not need to be in a giant love triangle. Such focus on dramatic love affairs undermines the show's holistic (and hubristic) mission. Not to mention, none of the tortured pining has been even remotely interesting. Honestly, the constant "will they, won't they" turbulence is the most mundane aspect of the show and a fully terrible choice for a focal point in the Season 2 finale.
Also, please don't include Coldplay on the soundtrack.
Actually, this is a way to make any drama better. Just stop using "Fix You" and fix your show. Seriously, the song is four minutes and fifty-five seconds long, but it played for six minutes and forty-five seconds at the end of the Season 2 finale.