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New Yorker Agrees With Me On Newsroom

And I didn’t even see it yet.

In “The Newsroom,” clever people take turns admiring one another. They sing arias of facts. They aim to remake

sorkin

Sorkin with his favorite person in the world

television news: “This is a new show, and there are new rules,” a maverick executive producer announces, several times, in several ways. Their outrage is so inflamed that it amounts to a form of moral eczema—only it makes the viewer itch.

Emily Nussbaum at the New Yorker likes and dislikes The Newsroom for all the usual reasons, because it is a Sorkin show. And that’s how I called it

The whole premise of his HBO series The Newsroom is “Why don’t more people in the news say the things that we know are right.” And that’s going to be it. Episode after episode of clever dialogues that make people feel clever about what they really believe.

Oh and The Newsroom kind of sounds exactly like Studio 60, right down to the opening premise.

When the moderator needles him into answering a question about why America is the greatest country on earth, he goes volcanic, ticking off the ways in which America is no such thing, then closing with a statement of hope, about the way things used to be. This speech goes viral, and his boss (Sam Waterston) and his producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), who’s also his ex-girlfriend, encourage him to create a purer news program, purged of any obsession with ratings and buzz.

Jeff Daniels by the way is 57. Emily Mortimer is pushing 40. Nothing more to say about that.

Whenever McAvoy delivers a speech or slices up a right-winger, the ensemble beams at him, their eyes glowing as if they were cultists.

But they’re really admiring Aaron Sorkin’s words. McAvoy is standing in for Sorkin. Sorkin might as well just step in and play the part. He even kind of looks like Daniels.

Sorkin is often presented as one of the auteurs of modern television, an innovator and an original voice. But he’s more logically placed in a school of showrunners who favor patterspeak, point-counterpoint, and dialogue-driven tributes to the era of screwball romance. Some of this banter is intelligent; just as often, however, it’s artificial intelligence, predicated on the notion that more words equals smarter.

Besides Sorkin, these creators include Shonda Rhimes (whose Washington melodrama, “Scandal,” employs cast members from “The West Wing”); Amy Sherman-Palladino, of “The Gilmore Girls” (and the appealing new “Bunheads”); and David E. Kelley, who created “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.”

Nussbaum is very right here. There’s a whole school of these people and what they do best is copy some of the energy of the theater by incorporating wordplay and rapid responses, but there’s nothing behind it. Sorkin admitted as much in his New York Magazine interview.

Sorkin isn’t really any different than Diablo Cody. They’re both doing the same thing. Pumping out tons of fake clever dialogue that’s fast, topical and senseless.

Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on.

And that’s similar to what I wrote

There’s no surprises when you’re dealing with Aaron Sorkin. All the flashy caffeinated dialogue hides the hollowness of the material. It’s the razzle-dazzle behind which there’s nothing except cliches. All the energy and character is there only to give the audience the cliche that they want and to make them feel smart for hearing their own ideas spat back to them in the crackling dialogue that they wish they could do on their own.

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