I’m discovering that there seems to be a weird black holes of shows that I used to watch. Shows that I used to follow regularly or binge on a regular basis and then, suddenly, for reasons I can’t really explain, just kind of stopped. It’s not that I stopped enjoying them or wanting to watch them. It’s just that I stopped the actual watching.
The Shield is one of those shows, and one I’d like to come back to one day. The Newsroom is another, and it’s one I finally did come back to a couple of days ago once I realized there was a third and final season I’d never made it through.
The Newsroom exists in kind of a weird space, which I believe is the case with most or even all of Aaron Sorkin’s work. It features characters who talk in ways that real people don’t actually talk, but I think most people would really enjoy talking like. Everyone has impeccable timing for either comedic or dramatic delivery, and everyone is about 1000 times more clever than they have any right to be. You know that feeling when you think of exactly the right thing to say, only it’s 20 minutes after the conversation ended? Yeah, everyone on The Newsroom pretty much knows exactly what to say at exactly the right moment.
But as a writer, and as a fan of verbal sparring, I enjoy it, even if it’s not even remotely realistic. I also enjoy the show as a former newspaper guy and someone who cares quite a bit about journalism. And while it’s been a few years since I watched the first two seasons, it felt like season three really upped the focus on ethics. Just about every character was connected to some kind of subplot involving ethical behaviour. Heck, one of the characters even briefly dated an ethics professor. Which was maybe a bit on the nose.
Unfortunately, as the final season for this series, the show doesn’t really build towards a satisfying conclusion. Instead there are five episodes of regular storytelling, and then a jarring shift in gears to present a final episodes that tries to wrap everything up. Things get even more awkward when the show tries to make so many things seem to come full circle by tacking on a bunch of scenes that apparently happened before the very first episode. And that’s just … no, don’t do that.
I’d be tempted to suggest ending the series with episode five and just skipping that weird finale, except that would mean ending on a pretty dark note, and that’s no fun either, so I guess make your way through that uncomfortable finale as best you can.
If you even want to watch the show. It feels pretty niche, like I said. And to be fair, it is pretty navel-gazey. But if you want to spend a couple dozen hours over the course of three seasons watching journalists talking about how they need to be trying harder, and then watch them try and succeed in doing better, there are probably very few other ways to do that.