The Newsroom & the Election: “For the Center”

By David Pergolini on Oct 25, 2012 to The Newsroom

The 2012 Presidential Election inches ever closer and once again we, the audience are faced with a decision that can change the face of America and the world alike. In spite of such an overwhelming bombardment of serious political content over these past few weeks, we here at HBOWatch thought it would be a good idea to sit and reflect on how politically-themed shows affect the mindset of the American populace, namely – ‘The Newsroom’.

Will McAvoy captured our attention from the second he stepped on screen, opening Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama with a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, controversial monologue on the campus of Northwestern University. The series follows our broken-hearted protagonist on his “mission to civilize” the American media, a task that brought about an avalanche of political backlash and corruption along with a host of annoying office romances. ‘The Newsroom’ certainly had a sort of pretentious aura about it, claiming to support neither the left nor the right, but the center. Now I’m no political expert, but I call bullshit.

Will McAvoy’s self proclaimed Republican status is given with few (if any) evidential actions on screen, so much so that you have to wonder if the show’s overall integrity has been tarnished. Don’t get me wrong, I find McAvoy to be one of the most fascinating and unorthodox characters on TV. We want to trust him, to believe him, to understand him so much so that we tend to drop our guard, allowing our thoughts and ideals to be influenced by every word McAvoy utters. That’s what brilliant writers are capable of – structuring our protagonist in such a way that the audience may better empathize and thus, are more inclined to trust.

I think it’s obvious that Sorkin created his protagonist as a registered Republican in order to bring some balance to the shows leftward leanings, a trait, I’m afraid, which provides hardly any notion of objectivity. Many of these R.I.N.O (Republican In Name Only) implications revolve around societal issues; gay marriage, voter registration, immigration, religion, etc. What we fail to hear is McAvoy’s take on the economical ideals and issues of both parties which seems to be the highlight of the 2012 Presidential Election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I suppose you can say that McAvoy’s attacks on the Tea-Party are enough to answer any looming questions in regard to his economic stance but I still need to see something, anything that gives proof to his unwarranted Republican status. Maybe we’ll get to hear more of that in season 2.

McAvoy captured our attention with his over-estatic, competitive nature combined with his uncanny ability to relentlessly question his targets until forcing an exposed ‘truth.’ These eloquently delivered tirades on Republican affiliates truly make the opposition look both unintelligent and unqualified, yet it makes me wonder – the very heart of a bipartisan system relies on the belief that both parties are putting their best case forward, identifying key differences and pivoting after known flaws in the opposing party. Many will tell you that ‘The Newsroom’ does just that, every point and every word made by McAvoy is an undeniable truth, a heaven-sent comprehension of government and a beacon of how America should work. The problem is this – it’s a TV show. Every idea, every word, every breath begins on a single piece of paper. Our characters are instructed and directed on how to speak, to respond, to learn, to understand, to win, to lose, to become happy or sad, encompassing their entire fictional nature. My point is that no writer can remain entirely objective, it’s impossible to keep yourself out of your writing. So when ‘The Newsroom’ claims to be speaking for the center I find myself asking – ‘What is the center?’

This 2012 Presidential Election is perhaps the most important governmental decision of our generation. It’s obvious now that America has come to a diverged road and your decision will have an affect as to which path we travel down. Whose it going to be? The Republican business expert, Mitt Romney? Or our current President, Barack Obama? It’s times like these where we come to realize just how truly polarized this great nation is. ‘The Newsoom’ works to bridge the gap, to find a common understanding of how to treat the media and how to treat one another. Though I may appear critical of the shows dynamics, it’s undeniable that Will McAvoy is working to make the world a better place – a notion we should all come to know and practice.

Until next season, I’m David Pergolini. Goodnight.

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