“It Only Takes 21 Days To Drop A Bad Habit”

By Donna Anderson on Jul 31, 2013 to The Newsroom

Will and Mac "The Newsroom"

Years ago I read one of those condensed articles in Reader’s Digest that said it only takes 21 days to develop a new good habit. The article suggested that this had something to do with the way our brains are hardwired and that by using reverse logic it’s also reasonable to assume that it only takes 21 days to break a bad habit. I think the characters in “The Newsroom” need to read that article.

“Willie Pete” opens with Will in front of the cameras on September 23, 2011. The topic is the Republican Presidential Debate and Steven Hill, a decorated Captain in the US army who’s booed by audience members when he asks if any of the candidates intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.

Noting that all of the candidates have, in the past, praised the members of our armed forces for their courage and bravery, Will finds it appalling that none of the presidential candidates standing on the stage stood up for Captain Hill during the debate.

“They let him stand alone. Soldiers never do that. Leaders never do that. Witless bullies and hapless punks do it all the time.”

If you remember all the way back to the pilot episode, Will’s come a long way in changing his habits. He’s grown from being a corporate-mouthpiece and ratings-whore to being a cape-and-tights wearing super hero, defender of truth and justice. But has he gone too far?

It does take almost super-human strength to break old bad habits and replace them with new good habits and perhaps Will doesn’t know his own strength.

It’s all well and good to report the real news. But by calling the Tea Party the “American Taliban” and then following it up with labeling all the Republican presidential candidates “witless bullies and hapless punks,” isn’t Will doing precisely what he said is wrong with the news these days? He’s twisting it and using it to frame his own personal opinion and agenda. His coverage really isn’t unbiased at all.

As a wise man once said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but underneath it’s still a pig.” As another wise man once said, “Old habits die hard,” and Will, obviously, hasn’t been able to kill his super-hero sized ego, yet.

We already know that the crew is going to get into some pretty hefty legal trouble over the Genoa story but it’s going to be interesting to see how. Will it be because of legitimate reasons, like not verifying a source or failing to fact-check something? Or will it be because Will refuses to rein in his ego and fails to see that he’s still a ratings-whore only now he’s wearing lipstick?

Which brings us to gossip columnist Nina Howard, who wants to tell the world the real reason Will wasn’t part of the 9/11 Anniversary program. She knows he didn’t have the flu and she wants a statement for her column.

But, against Charlie’s advice, Will dons his Superman cape and decides to tell her the truth and Nina, who’s also been mesmerized by Will’s new-found powers and is now trying to change her spots, as well, accepts his offer of a Mimosa and agrees to snuff the story.

Nina’s changed something else, too – her mind. When we first met her, Nina was trying to hook up with Will at a New Year’s Eve party. But now that she’s heard his message to Mac, she tells Will she doesn’t want to go on a date with him because she knows he still loves MacKenzie. Given, though, that it takes a good bit of time and effort for a leopard to completely change his spots, it’s not surprising to find Nina coming out of Will’s bedroom the next morning.

Don "The Newsroom"

The scene that really made this episode was the scene where Zane, Sloan’s Executive Producer, drags her by the arm through the newsroom and storms into Don’s office. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a classic Sorkin-scene with his trademark rapid-fire dialog between Sloan and her EP, with Don sitting on the sidelines just soaking it all up. Psssst… pay close attention to Don’s chair.

The best line? Sloan says, “If you’re gonna speak to me like that, you better give me a chew-toy first.”

Jim, who’s still riding along on Mitt Romney’s campaign bus, is also undergoing a change. Unlike other reporters from the mainstream media, he’s no longer satisfied with Romney’s I-have-a-plan anwers. Jim asks, “Yeah? What’s the plan?” over and over again and Romney’s answer is always the same: “I plan to be President.”

In the end, Jim gets himself and two other reporters kicked off the bus and they plan to start covering the campaign independently so they can ask whatever questions they want. But isn’t this, again, a misguided use of this new-found sense of power you get when you set out to do what’s right and honorable? Sometimes, when you know you’re doing the right thing you feel so empowered and so emboldened that you strike too hard, you miss the target, and you end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Jim and his cohorts certainly can ask any questions they want to but that still doesn’t mean Romney will answer. And now they have to provide their own transportation. They’d have made a much greater impact if they’d stayed on the bus, continued to ask their questions, and then reported that Romney either wouldn’t, couldn’t, or just plain refused to answer. Then America would have something to pay attention to.

And speaking of attention, Maggie, my least favorite character, managed to grab her share of attention – again. I didn’t have to watch my local newscaster, or Jane Bingum in “Drop Dead Diva,” or Gordon Ramsey in “Kitchen Nightmares” for 21 days to realize that I just couldn’t bear to watch these people on TV. No matter how good the show is, I find these people extremely irritating and it’s just not worth the aggravation to watch.

I’m beginning to feel the same way about “The Newsroom” and it makes me kinda sad. When I was a kid I always dreamed of being involved in the news somehow, either as a TV anchor or as a newspaper reporter, so I really, really like this program. But Maggie is quickly becoming a deal-breaker and if she doesn’t change her habits soon I’m afraid I’ll have to stop watching for fear I’ll end up wearing orange for the rest of my life because the person on the sidewalk below died when I threw my TV out the window.

Maggie "The Newsroom"

In this third episode of the season Maggie added nothing to the program but comedic relief – if you think acting like a paranoid self-centered idiot is funny. Again, her screeching in the middle of a roomful of people trying to have a serious conversation is annoying, ridiculous, immature and unrealistic. She should have been fired long ago. I can’t wait for her to leave for Africa and I hope she never comes back!

There. I feel much better now. Let’s talk about Mac.

Mac is cute and she has that adorable accent, and to top it all off, she’s smart and she knows her job. How cool was it that she knew all that military jargon and she knew which helicopters could fly at what altitudes and what kind of weapons they carried? I can’t even tell the difference between AMC and GMC and I just found out last week that the car I’ve had for three years has an alarm system and the battery is in the trunk under the spare tire, which I also didn’t know I had because it’s hidden under this secret hatch thingy I never knew existed.

But Mac needs to change an old habit, or rather, she needs to “drop” an old habit – Will. To Will she just appears needy, constantly asking him what he said in the voicemail message he left that night he got high eating “cookies” and every woman on the planet will tell you that’s the worst thing you can do. Men definitely want a woman who needs them, but they don’t want you tell appear to need them. I know. It’s confusing. It’s that whole Mars vs. Venus thing, but it’s true.

Realistically, MacKenzie needs to at least appear to move on, to stop apologizing, to accept the fact that’s she’s human and we all make mistakes. And if Will can’t accept that, then she doesn’t need him anyway. He’s just not good enough for her.

mac-season3

But it may just be the catalyst Will needs to get his head out of his butt and admit he still has feelings for Mac. In which case, Will and Mac would end up together and the sexual tension between the two would be gone.

On the downside, because this is TV-land and not “reality”, that sexual tension is a big part of what makes this show, any show, habit-forming. Without it, “The Newsroom” would eventually go the way of “Moonlighting” and “Friends” as fans change channels to watch new star-crossed lovers on new TV shows grapple and grope their way to relationship Nirvana. On the upside, though, Maggie would be off the air forever, which almost makes a reunion between Mac and Will something to pray for.

Here’s a preview for episode 4:

Donna Anderson has many interests, so she writes about lots of things for lots of different websites.  The best way to keep up with her?  Follow her on Twitter @SheWritesaLot or send her an email at danderson1959@gmail.com .  You’ll be glad you did!

  • Maggie

    Maggie is to Newsroom what Mandy was to West Wing: annoying, irrelevant, forced. Drop her. Please.










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