Analysis: ‘The Newsroom:’ An HBO series that changes the way we think about news

What if the news was reported incredibly well, with “no demographic sweet spot, a place where we can all come together.” What if this was the type of news station we all gathered around. Someplace where we could get facts and decency with no party biases getting in the way. Will McAvoy, the lead of “Newsroom” had this same dream.

“The Newsroom” was a short lived piece of HBO drama that young journalists dream of. The fast-paced fact checking, the witty banter with fellow employees, and a community of people all searching for the truth — what aspiring undergraduate wouldn’t watch this?

There are some series that make the audience want to take action. This television show inspires the younger generation by subtly pointing out problems in society. Similar to shows like “Mad Men” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Newsroom” speaks to the youth of its day. While some may not fully understand the lure of a newsroom drama, what makes it so good is the way it looks into an ideal version of an industry that could use improvement.

The main criticism of this show (and there’s not many) is that it’s not realistic. “The Newsroom” may not be realistic, but that is the entire point. The purpose is to show people the disparity between the current state of media and what it could be if the news was reported ethically and level headed. The method behind this series is to show the viewer how the news world would be if high profile networks didn’t have to tow the party line, worry about profits, or have fair sources.

“The Newsroom” features a cast of talented, serious actors including Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer and Olivia Munn. The writing of the show paired with the strong crew succeeds at creating a dignified yet witty and friendly feel to the show. The importance of the stories the show’s television network, ACN, reports on is balanced by friendly wit when the characters interact. There’s also a little piece of relationship drama with Maggie and Jim, because it wouldn’t be an HBO show without a touch of romantic drama.

The cast also introduces some amazingly strong women in powerful positions. It shows the reality of being a woman, as well as an executive. One example appears in season two.

Sloan, the economics anchor, is dragged by her wrist through the newsroom by her executive producer. She demands that “if [he] ever lead [her] by the wrist through that newsroom again, [she’d] take out each of [his] … knuckles with a ball-peen hammer.” While this is a very extreme situation, it shows the mistreatment that women often times have to deal with in the workplace.

“The Newsroom” calls attention to workplace harassment, especially with Sloan’s character — likely because she seems to go against all stereotypes. She is beautiful, smart, sarcastic, socially awkward, yet charming. Who better to spit in the face of female stereotypes?

“The Newsroom” is a brilliant drama on what our news could — and should — be. It is an intricate display of journalism and feminism that is definitely worth a watch!

 

Review: ‘Madam Secretary:’ A new take on political dramas

The 2014 series “Madam Secretary” shakes up everything you thought you knew about political dramas. Instead of thriller-like plot lines and corruption running rampant, we see a realistic yet interesting and wholesome show.

The series starts with Elizabeth McCord — played by Téa Leoni — being recruited for the Secretary of State position by the current president — played by Keith Carradine. McCord is an ex-CIA agent turned university professor and horse farmer. President Conrad Dalton worked closely with Elizabeth when she worked with the CIA, which is why he appointed her to the position.

This show is very different from all the other political dramas we’ve been flooded with in recent years. Elizabeth McCord isn’t political. She has no personal ambition to the presidency or any other higher political office, but she is a bright and very well-connected politician.

The directors of “Madam Secretary” do a wonderful job at taking very difficult and troubling situations and making them palatable for a larger viewership. We get an example of this in the pilot episode, when two young men are trapped in a foreign prison. Elizabeth tries to get the president on board with her plan to save the young men. However, the administration refuses to use a non-traditional approach to save them. McCord uses back channels and calls in favors from old friends in order to save the men, even though she got a slap on the wrist from the presidential administration.

The show articulates the balance it takes to care for children, maintain a healthy marriage and keep a social life, all while being a powerful political figure. Instead of being completely government focused, “Madam Secretary” takes you down a lovely path of the realistic (enough) life of a female political official.

Some criticisms of this 2014 TV Guide Award nominee for “favorite new show” argue that Elizabeth is simply too well connected. Many of the Secretary’s solutions to various international problems include asking the help of powerful people she just happened to go to college with, or a friend, or a parent of one of her children’s friends that happens to have the necessary connection or power to solve the issue.

However, someone in Elizabeth McCord’s position would have to be very well connected. In addition to this, Elizabeth has an innate ability to charm anyone. She has created many allies and benevolent associates that she can later call on.

In the pilot episode, McCord says that she’s “never met a situation where [she didn’t] have a choice in the matter,” which could very well be the show’s slogan. Elizabeth McCord only plays by the “rules” if they work in the situation. She often innovates and thinks outside the box in order to find a solution that no one else could possibly think of.

“Madam Secretary” is a fabulous combination between a Hallmark movie and a slightly less corrupt “House of Cards.” Lovers of politics, family life and drama will without a doubt binge watch this show.

Now if we could only get a season four!

Rating 5/5

Pros:

  • Shows balance between work and home life.
  • Strong and charming female protagonist.
  • Easy to understand political jargon.

Cons:

  • Only three seasons (some questions may go unanswered).