The Newsroom – Episode 5 (Review)

Catch up with what happened in episode 5 of The Newsroom.

Well, we all wondered when Sorkin was going to introduce the Arab Spring to McAvoy’s news desk. Here, we see the Egyptian “revolution” (argued as more of a military coup) reported from the hotel room of a foreign correspondent, soon before he’s found beaten and bruised on the street.

The team manage to find an adequate replacement, a young Egyptian activist who’s prepared to unmask himself and share his video footage so he can gain some major air time (a bit farfetched; his anonymity is what grants him insider access yet he’s prepared to reveal all for some American news network). As if unravelling the domino effect of the Arab Spring wasn’t enough, this week’s episode is also muddled up with some cheesy Valentine’s Day stuff (Mackenzie and Will still clearly love each other and Maggie obviously still wants a bit of Jim). One minute there’s gunfire in Tahrir Square, the next people are crying into a glass of house red.

I know I’ve banged on about this and The Newsroom shouldn’t always be compared to The West Wing. But when both shows are so heavily involved in political moralising, it’s hard not to compare them. I mentioned in a previous article about how covering real-life events could cheapen the quality of the storytelling; there’s a moment in The West Wing which almost reinforces the point. Will hands a speech draft to Toby, who berates him for including contemporary references. Toby argues that by doing so, it ruins the timelessness of rhetoric and devalues any profound meaning which stretches beyond the limitations of disposable modern culture.

The same could be said of The Newsroom. I’m not saying a programme about actual news events is impossible, just that pinning down something as gargantuan as the Arab Spring is never easy. Considering that The Newsroom jumps from story to story, subplot to subplot, it’s hard to imagine how Sorkin can ever do it justice. Hopefully with more episodes.


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