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The Newsroom S02E02: "The Genoa Tip"


If I were to give The Newsroom a hip, flashy makeover, I’d change the title to N.E.W.Z. and the tagline would be "You news or lose." Of course this is a terrible idea for two reasons: 1) I can’t think of enough words to flesh out that acronym, and 2) any newsperson worth her weight in scoops knows that sometimes you "news and lose." Being a good investigative reporter means sharing unbiased facts, staying at an emotional arm's length from important stories that affect the real world. On good days, doing so informs the human race, connects people, and facilitates society’s improvement. On bad ones, objective research on a given story intimately stirs the soul, reminding you that the characters in play are all actual people whose lives you can’t personally rescue, in the name of fair journalism. "The Genoa Tip" succeeded most when exploring this worthy theme, but a nagging attention to petty office drama drove the whole execution into frustrating territory.


Let’s just get this out of the way right up front: That Sloan conversation about women loving closets? That's the kind of stuff people are talking about when they say The Newsroom is derisive toward its female characters. Yes, some women can love closets (and shopping, and chocolate, and Sex and the City, and going "squeee!" in their pink jammies), but when more often than not, the male characters are the stalwart rocks keeping these daffy dames in line, it detracts from the potential of the show. Case in point, while Don soberly struggled with the impending, wrongful execution of Troy Davis, and Will pensively dwelled on his ruined legacy, Maggie and Sloan concocted a harebrained scheme to track down the user who posted that infamous Youtube video. 


To be fair, rather than accidentally Xeroxing her lipstick, Mac had a smidge more of a serious presence this go-round, encouraging Jerry Dantana’s pursuit of the titular "Genoa Tip" and green-lighting Maggie’s Kampala assignment (the one that will eventually result in her sporting that Chucky wig). It’d be nice to see Mac deal with an individual conflict on the same level as Will, (shouldn’t she have PTSD or something?), but maybe that’s where her concern for Maggie’s excursion is headed—which would be a gazillion times more interesting than hashing out the remnants of the century’s most boring love triangle. Even Jim's like "How is this still happening?":

Also, why would Maggie agree to room with "creepster hug" Lisa if they’re both going to be pissed at each other the whole time? It’s impossible to live with someone who doesn’t take out the trash, much less one who manipulated your love life. I know it’s hard to find digs in New York, but there is a website on the internets that young folks use in between cyber-texting sessions called Craigslist. Fortunately, the man connecting these two hens escaped all their frenzied clucking out on the Romney campaign, albeit with measured results. It’s clear that Jim’s being positioned romantically opposite Hallie "I’m Your Competitor" Shea, but the two are still in the discovery stage, so there’s not much to say on the matter for now. It’ll be great to see where a love between these rivals is headed, though. 


Outside of Shenanigansville, Will continued rehabilitating his image by refusing to cover both the role of shady lobbyists in alleged cop-killer Troy Davis’s fate and the legality of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki's kill-list death, much to the chagrin of his team. Ironically, while everyone around him is trying to make a difference through the news, Will McAvoy’s doing the exact opposite by pulling back from anything that might offend "America." That Will shrouds a bruised ego in valid arguments on treason and due process, even while stating that he believes the opposite, is an interesting layer to his motivations. It’s as though retreating from controversy isn’t enough, he has to adopt an attitude of condemning it. On the surface he’s licking his wounds, but deep down a long game might be forming: If he ever hopes to be heard by the masses, he has to win them back by returning to that amenable sweet spot featured in his "I’m not going anywhere" 9/11 coverage.         


Years before websites like "Why We Hate Will McAvoy" and "I Fucking Hate Will McAdouche" graced the internet, footage of Will’s first shot at the big-time offered a touching look into the birth of a household name. Sure, it’s a lucky coincidence that he’d be strolling by while these nobody employees happened to be viewing the segment, but the sentimental moment represented a tone that The Newsroom achieves uniquely well. Aside from the headline commentary, business machinations, and office hijinks, this show’s about a fallen hero’s return to glory—one normally reserved for wistful sports movies (complete with a pep talk from Coach Charlie). You wouldn’t think it’d be heartwarming to watch a man in a suit become famous again, when in Mac’s words he’s "a douchebag, and a little bit of a coward," but at the end of the day Will’s desperately on our side—and worth rooting for. He may be "bad news" now, but he’s capable of making good news... which is why it’s so frustrating to see him default to his "Jay Leno of the news" attitude. 


While I wouldn’t have minded more scenes of Will blazing spliffs in his sweet-ass high-rise, field trips outside the workplace are always welcome. His exchange with the police officer provided one of the episode’s few triumphant moments, tempered by just the right amount of vulnerability. For a figure who relies so much on the comforting nature of his image, to have his visible insecurities called out by a simple "Are you alright?"—followed by that incredulous scoff that indicated things most definitely were not—was evidence that Will’s attempts at playing middle-of-the-road hurt him more than it helped his public persona. Oh well, back to shouty-truth time!

Just as in-depth research can make a journalist feel closer to a story, the defeat in being unable to alter the outcome can feel just as personal. When Mac asked "What’s our role here?" in discussing the circumstances surrounding al-Awlaki’s death, the answer was clear: Despite what Will told Don, the role of news is advocacy. Not for one angle over another, or right or wrong, or this side or that—but for the truth, in all its elusive forms.   


FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS:

– Did you suspect Will had to protect his family from a drunken father?

– Is "men and showers" really a stereotype?

– Wouldn’t Jim’s camera have a flip screen?

– Neal: On his way to serious journalism? 

– Did you miss the deposition framing device?

– Were you relieved to see that Will is ready to demand the memorandum, or should he keep cooling off?

– How is Sex and the City still haunting these characters when it went off the air nine years ago in The Newsroom-iverse?

– What is the best plotline so far this season?

– Why are the young journalists of 2011 listening to 1978's "Hold the Line" by Toto?

– Do you like when the date gets typed up each time to help contextualize these stories?

– What is the role of the "news"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/14/2014

Season 3 : Episode 6

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Thanks for the good review.
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I like this show. At least they're trying to bring up things that might interest an intelligent viewer.
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Aaron Sorkin wasn't kidding in The Daily Show interview about the headlines playing a back story to the office lots. This week was steamrollered by so much balls that the death row guy biting it had no, well, bite at all. I was amazed at how incidental it felt by the end. In fact it had me wondering if such occurrences were regularly onscreen, would I just go pah after a few in real life - much like this ep.
Mac's storm in a B cup frontage continues, as ever, to have an acting career of its own in those blouses. It's like witnessing earth tremors every time she's about.
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"Also, why would Maggie agree to room with "creepster hug" Lisa if they’re both going to be pissed at each other the whole time?"

Do you mean now that every person involved has seen the video? Because the scene only dealt with the discovery and setting new boundaries on their relationship, not Maggie's response. Otherwise, that was the whole point of the stupid C plot to keep Lisa from seeing the post. When Don left her last week only he had seen it, and he'd called Lisa to get Maggie's room back for her. Thus, this week - as the hits multiplied and the probability of Lisa seeing it reached 100% - we were treated to a rendition of Ross chasing around Manhattan to make sure Rachel didn't hear about his dalliance.
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I agree, all the running around was dumb, but it added weight to the image of reflecting on how similar Maggie is to Will in her ability to completely bullshit herself into thinking her motives and actions aren't as bad and self-absorbed as they truly are. I LOVE that we had a moment of Lisa calling Maggie to the carpet and leading her around to seeing what a selfish, immature asshole she is. Maggie hurt EVERYONE in the situation, and for what? She wasn't really that into Don, she just didn't want to "fail" at an otherwise worthless relationship, and she didn't have the stones to take a risk on a guy who might actually love her. Just as Will would rather be liked by a large group of idiots, Maggie would rather be the object of one man's guilt and obligation rather than take the risk of putting her heart on the line with a guy that wants to love her. Cowards.

I'm actually hoping now that Don isn't with Maggie the show will provide me with some reason not to think he is a total douchebag. Up to this point I find him smarmy and irritating.
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What is all this nonsense about Women being portrayed like idiots? They all talk like idiots at times, men and women. Heck, you have a male character trying to pitch stories about bigfoot. Sloan consistently demonstrates herself to be the smartest person in the room, as does MacKenzie. The difference between Sloan/Maggie and that crazy blogger couldn't have been more obvious.
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Most of the stuff that happens had been covered by everyone else here. One thing though - I love the music this season, at least this 2 episodes. Last week was The Who and this week - you are always on my mind sat on the background while the show goes on...beautifully done. Whatever's been said, Aaron Sorkin has good taste in music !

Good to see Grace Gummer back on TV shows though sometimes its hard to tell her from her sister.

To be fair, to those who said Aaron SATC reference is because of Kristin Davis, SATC does influence lots of people even today!
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Good review. You're hitting the plots right as far as I'm concerned.

I'm personally struggling to sit on an opinion for the new season. The show is back, which is great, but I feel there's a spark missing about it. I'm fairly sure that spark is the humor and often positive vibe that they used to have. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad thing that the show has gotten gloomier. But, I do think that when it's brighter the show is more complete if you will.

I'm also fairly sure that most characters this season will have an arc getting them from the bottomless pit they think they are to the happy, intelligent, bubbly people we know them to be. Which is fine, except that the doom and gloom doesn't bring out the balls of steel Will+Mac+Charlie. The problem with this is that the Newsroom is best when it's ballsy and really gets up in people's faces with its tone of news reporting with an implied view that there is a lack of morals of today's journalism. It's still doing that, but it feels like it's a "light" version of last season. Which is why I hope the sadness -> happiness arc ends sooner rather than later.

This said, I'm still enjoying the show obviously. Mostly interested in Neal's plot, and especially how they were seemingly unaware of what was to come.
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"Fortunately, the man connecting these two hens escaped all their frenzied clucking out on the Romney campaign"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!
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best show on tv currently. like season 1 better so far (minus the weird love pentagon that went on too long) but still loving what they are doing,
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im sick of people complaining about the way women are portrayed on this show; you are complaining about sloan loving a nice closet but you just ignore the fact Will acted the same way talking about showers. dont just pick and choose. men are portrayed as sometimes idiots as well. Will and Dom both have their relationships issues and moments of stupidity just as much as the men and everyone has stated a number of times that sloan is the cleverest person there; and sloan is a woman!!! Shocking!
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Meh. It was there. It was an episode. It happened.

First, hopefully when Maggie goes to Africa we can finally get off of this frankly stupid love pentagon that is now Jim, Maggie, Don, Sloan and Lisa. Although I really hope that Lisa gets more screen time. She is a fun character.

The rest of the episode felt pretty much like the ultimate filler episode.

?'s

I thought that came out last season. But yea, he is a protector.

Nope. As long as it is wet, you can regulate the temperature, the water is clear, it doesn't smell, and has decent pressure, I am good.

Yes it should have one. Also, at what point do you go to a mall and pic up one of those life sized teeny bopper stand along posters and square up your own shot.

Nope.

He should demand it. He seems kind of blah this season thus far.

Don't know. Never saw the show, don't want to see the show. I am good with them never referencing ever again.

Sloan has 451,000 followers on twitter is the best plot thus far.

No clue.

I tend to rely on my memory, in regards to the time line.

News, should do the who, what, where, when, why and how. And try to leave as much personal crap at the door as they can.

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I am glad there is the date typed up, because (honestly) I don't remember exactly who did what to whom when always. My favorite storyline, oddly enough, is Neal catching Occupy Wallstreet (and godfathering it, in some way), before it became such an outcry. And, which is even more odd for me, I really like the music. Especially the way Will seems to be cloaking himself in it, rather than talking to people. His "first time on the air as newsman on 9/11" was spooky great scene.
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Suspect!!
will stated he protected his 2 sisters brother and mother from his drunk father in 5th grade... he actually cracked the bottle of Dewar's on his face..

seems like its good time for a session...

MEN & SHOWER!! oh yeah!! i have an awesome shower!!

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– Did you suspect Will had to protect his family from a drunken father?- This was a major plot point revealed last year. I'm more confused how Charlie knew that about Will after only having said maybe 10 words to him at that point...
– Is "men and showers" really a stereotype?- No, if anything in my life it's women who are more into luxury showers.

– Wouldn’t Jim’s camera have a flip screen?- Yes. This bugged the hell out of me because it was obvious his camera had a viewfinder that could flip forward, so he could do his own framing up.
– Neal: On his way to serious journalism?- Let's hope not too serious. I still want to find out the truth about yetis.
– Did you miss the deposition framing device?- No. I'm sure it'll come back later, though.
– Were you relieved to see that Will is ready to demand the memorandum, or should he keep cooling off?- Yes, I'm hoping that means Will is back in fighting form rather than continuing to lick his wounds.
– How is Sex and the City still haunting these characters when it went off the air nine years ago in The Newsroom-iverse?- Because there really are crazies like the blogger out there who got ridiculously attached to a mediocre show and now frame their whole lives around being just like one of the girlfriends.
– What is the best plotline so far this season?- I think the best plotline is the one with the slowest burn at this point: I think whatever happens to Maggie in Kampala is going to be truly horrifying, which, like you said, is going to bring up Mac's own experiences/PTSD issues from Peshawar, and actually give some depth to these two flighty, flitty women.
– Why are the young journalists of 2011 listening to 1978's "Hold the Line" by Toto?- Because young journalists (or young people in general) can't enjoy older music? I don't understand the question here. My iPod is full of music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. Just because I wasn't born when it came out doesn't mean I can't enjoy it now.
– Do you like when the date gets typed up each time to help contextualize these stories?- Eh. I can take it or leave it. Sometimes it's not really necessary when I've already figured out the timeline, but I can see why they do it since they can skip multiple weeks, or last year multiple months, in a single episode.

– What is the role of the "news"?- To inform, to educate people on all sides of an issue (ideally without inserting any of the personal opinions of the anchor, EPs, or network into the coverage). Like you said, to be an advocate for the truth.
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Why does my head almost always hurt after I watch an episode of The Newsroom?
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Good episode if you cut out every bloody scene about the stupid Maggie/Jim romance bollocks.

I was sick of it last season, I'm even more annoyed at this season. Seriously needs to die.
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Pretty damn sure it's dead now... thank God.
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Didn't Will tell his therapist (the guy from numb3rs) that he did in fact protect his family from his drunken father?
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Yes. How his dad was a drunken bully, and Will had unintentionally bullied one of the people he interviewed that week. Side note: I miss Terry Crews. Why isn't he still around? Surely Will is still getting death threats...
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You're so right - Terry Crews needs to come back ASAP.
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To the SATC question, if Sorkin is still dating or has married Kristin Davis, that is why the Newsroom is besotted with that hoary old chestnut of a show.
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According to wiki, they are still dating.
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