Aaron Sorkin is one of the screenwriters of his generation, famous for rapid-fire, fast-paced dialogue ‘walk and talk’ scenes with credits like ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Social Network’ under his belt. Sorkin is a baby boomer progressive par excellence. That means he idolises the sixties and seventies era of crusading liberal reporters, the likes of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. This series, lamentably cancelled after only three seasons, is more or less the apotheosis of Sorkin’s mindset and worldview. Good-hearted journos working hard to get that story and basking in the light of the dignity and gravitas of one of these post-war consensus-style reporting icons.
It’s all fictional of course, except, in a novel departure, for the news stories themselves, that are drawn from real-life. Jeff Daniels is the Dan Rather-style lead anchor of a 60 minutes-modelled news feature TV show, whose ‘Newsroom’ is the subject of the drama. Jane Fonda plays the Network chief, obviously.
There’s a lot of pretentiousness, navel-gazing narcissism and self-righteousness here, but there’s also no denying the exuberant entertainment value of Sorkin’s writing and his commentary on American public life. This plays like a mirror-image of Iannucci’s ‘Veep’ in that in ‘Veep’ everyone is unrealistically despicable whereas here they are unrealistically noble. Great to watch nonetheless.