Imagine being Aaron Sorkin today.
You believe firmly in all leftist dogmas. You are convinced that you possess a superior intelligence. You have written a television show that glorifies leftist dogmas, putting them in the mouth of a blowhard broadcaster who reminds people of Keith Olberman.
You expect to be showered with plaudits from television critics... for your brilliance, your audacity, and the utter correctness of your opinions.
At the least, you assume that the liberal media will cut you some slack. After all, you are doing God's word, indoctrinating the ignorant masses in leftists pieties.
But then, on Monday, as posted here, The New Yorker’s television critic Emily Nussbaum did not just pan your show. She trashed it to within an inch of its life.
It was an inauspicious start.
Then yesterday, Maureen Ryan weighed in on the Huffington Post. She echoed Nussbaum’s views.
In Ryan’s words:
The biggest problem with "The Newsroom" -- and it's one of many, many problems -- is that its goals and its narrative strategies are in direct conflict with each other. The result is a dramatically inert, infuriating mess, one that wastes a fine cast to no demonstrable purpose, unless you consider giving Sorkin yet another platform in which to Set the People Straight is a worthwhile purpose.
Everything about it is overblown or undercooked to the point of being laughable; a palpable and occasionally comical cognitive dissonance arose between the admiration the swelling soundtrack told me I was supposed to feel and the buzzing annoyance I actually felt during the four episodes I watched. Even aesthetically, the whole thing feels off: The cinematography in Will's airless newsroom is pallid and clumsy, and the interactions of the characters feel flat and contrived.
A show in which paper-thin characters spend so much time congratulating themselves for "speaking truth to stupid" is always going to have an uphill climb in the hearts and minds of viewers used to more subtle delights, but when "The Newsroom" isn't obvious and self-congratulatory, it's manipulative and shrieky.
Apparently, Ryan did not like the show.
But, what about Washington Post television critic, Hank Stuever? Yesterday he offered his less-than-favorable review. In a slap to Sorkin he found the writing especially bad.
In Stuever’s words:
The word pile that once seemed so melodious in Sorkin’s other projects — especially that millennial anti-anxiety medication known as the “The West Wing” — now has the effect of tinnitus. The men talk like Sorkin writes; the women talk that way, too; the 28-year-olds talk like that, as do the 41-year-olds, as do the cast’s septuagenarians, who include Sam Waterston as the head of the network news division and, later on, Jane Fonda as the network owner who puts the arch in matriarch. (In other words, Jane Fonda as Ted Turner.)
In case you missed the point, he added:
Characters never stop speechifying to one another, replacing believable dialogue with that unmistakably Sorkinesque logorrhea of righteous self-importance. It’s a puppet show with Sorkin as the only hand, expressing his displeasure with the tenor of public discourse. (Which everyone knows has reached an unctuous low.)
Of course, the show’s first episode had not yet aired. Still, it does not look good for Wunderkind Aaron Sorkin.