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The Newsroom: Aaron Sorkin Forgets What Year It Is

24 Jun

The cast of HBO’s The Newsroom, looking Sorkinish.

Watching The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series following the misadventures of a Keith Olberman-like cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels), is like being subjected to a horrible children’s show without the pleasure of a cartoon dog. Aaron Sorkin attempted the show-within-a-show genre before in 2006 with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. That show, which you may not remember, failed miserably when it tried to be edgy and smart.

Sorkin is at it again, writing characters who are so unrealistically sharp and quick that their believability is lost when “Written by Aaron Sorkin” appears across the screen.  The way the actors yip their dialogue at each other with such violent speed leaves no time for anything to be absorbed.  The audience is left behind to try to piece together everything that’s just been said as the dialogue continues barreling onward.

The biggest problem with the show is that it takes place two years in the past. I have no idea why and I don’t care to find out why, but the main action of the pilot centers on the news of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  That’s right, the breaking news on The Newsroom happened over two years ago!!! Amazing! Maybe Sorkin is going to try some sort of time-jumping plotting, but I truly doubt that The Newsroom will end up being a science fiction show.

Here’s a sample of Jim Harper (Hello, Jim Halpert!?! Too close!) explaining the seriousness of the oil spill to Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), anchor of News Night on ACN:

Jim: “They don’t know how to cap the well.”

Will: “Why is this well different from other wells?”

Jim: “It’s depth.”

Riveting.

Another issue in the show is the way the female characters speak. In true Aaron Sorkin style, there are two female characters and everyone else has a penis.  Those female characters are Mackenize (Emily Mortimer) and Maggie (Erin Andrews). Could those names be more “Most Popular Names for Children of Yuppies 2007”? Mackenzie dated McAvoy one million years ago (but of course it is a HUGE deal) and is now his executive producer on News Night. She spent her last few assignments in Iraq and is our solitary strong female character, even though she spends the episode whining about McAvoy going on vacation with Erin Andrews. Our other female character is Maggie Jordan (ew), played by Allison Pill. Maggie, most naturally, obsesses over relationships just like Mackenzie. How much penis worship can Sorkin force these two ladies to spew out? Not enough, as the first episode indicates.

Another tired Sorkin standard is the use of camera zooms to emphasize tension between characters and in the story.  If a character says something that is should be perceived as dramatic or intense in any way, the camera will quickly zoom in on their face and then pull back.  This happened at least twenty times in the pilot episode. That zoom is played out, Sorkin.

The Newsroom is another show about a TV show that fails to capture anything relevant.  The fact that the plot of the show centers on an event so far in the past (though not too far as to diminish the impact of the disaster) makes it feel stale and irrelevant.  And who is Jeff Daniels playing? I sense a strong scent of Olbermann with a hint of Bill O’Reilly, without the extreme conservative bent. Supposedly he is a right-leaning journalist, but we have not seen that quite yet. When McAvoy refers to the one minority character (Dev Patel, although I am not counting the nameless black man) on the show as Punjab, that O’Reilly scent arises once more. In any case, Jeff Daniels does not look as serious as the man he is trying to play. He also looks like he had some botox, but that’s just my opinion.

Should you watch The Newsroom? Meh. The Newsroom airs Sunday nights at 10 PM EST on HBO.

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News Flash: Good-Looking People Are Rude-Ass Bitches

16 Aug

As long as this planet exists, “science” will continue to fund “studies” that make you think “no shit”. The latest study providing us with obvious answers is an article by The Observer asking the question, “Are beautiful people ‘selfish by nature’?” According to the results of a study, “people blessed with more symmetrical facial features, which are considered more attractive, are less likely to cooperate and more likely to selfishly focus on their own interests.”

I consider John mayer to be the best looking man on the planet. But is he also a d-bag? Some evidence points to yes.

I can agree with this for a few reasons. I cannot think how many times I saw a super-hot guy I wanted to get to know but soon noticed that he was a douchebag from hell. There’s one guy in particular at my place of work who looks as though he stepped off the pages of GQ, but I soon found out from others that he has a snobby, holier-than-thou attitude that makes me no longer interested in seeing what he’s storing in his pants. Perhaps the real question that the article should pose is, “are hot people with bad attitudes one of the biggest turn-offs ever?” Survey says, fuck yes.

The theory that better-looking people think that they themselves are better and/or more deserving than their less attractive counterparts is nothing new. It is also stereotypical to assume that because someone is good-looking that they always have to be mean. From personal experience, I have to say that attractive mean people outnumber unattractive mean people by two-to-one, but it must also be understood that neither quality is mutually exclusive.  Being aware that you are attractive is one thing, but holding that over someone else’s head is quite another. I myself know that I am not anywhere near being ugly, and that I likely am considered attractive by “science,” but I really do not hope that I am perceived as mean because of this. If I am ever mean or less “cooperative,” as the article discusses, it’s probably due to someone’s bad attitude.

Very recently, a good friend of mine drunkenly sprung the following declaration upon an unsuspecting female victim: “I don’t know if you know this, but I’m hot.” How embarrassing. Perhaps the most troubling thing is that I’m friends with this person! Gross. Sorry boy, but if you are actually that hot, you probably don’t need to go around saying such poppycock.

One of the questions I want to ask is: what about people who think they’re hot (but they’re not) and subsequently go around proclaiming said hotness, all the while treating other people like shit? What can be said about those people? I suppose they are simply delusional in two dimensions, both about their looks and their sense of entitlement. However, one of the meanest people I know is also one of the least physically attractive, so perhaps that is an example of poetic justice in nature.

What have we learned today, children? There are only a few things worse than a pretty person with a poor attitude: accidentally pouring hot sauce onto an open wound, foreclosures, and the food at Applebee’s. This brings us to the next topic to be explored on Fixed Air – Bravo’s latest reality show, Most Eligible: Dallas. It’s about good-looking people who are (surprise!) rude-ass bitches. Lates.