Author’s note: I wrote this post several months ago, just after the season finale aired. I somehow forgot about it and only recently rediscovered it. My thoughts still stand though. So enjoy!
***NEWSROOM SEASON 1 & 2 SPOILERS BELOW***
The second season of Newsroom just wrapped this Sunday in the most anticlimactic fashion I’ve seen on television yet. In fact this whole season has been a giant mess. Not only that, but it decided to ignore a great deal of plot threads from the first season as well. I honestly have no idea why a show would do that. Why would you disregard all your hanging plot threads?
Let’s get to the big stuff first. The entire season was wrapped around this whole “Genoa” plotline. There were rumors flying around that the United States had used sarin gas on a bunch of civilians while rescuing a pair of marines. This was supposed to be a big story for the season’s newest major character: Jerry Dantana. It was his story, his big break, and so everything fell on him to make it count.
Obviously things don’t go as planned. Actually they go about as badly as they could. The team goes ahead with the story and over the course of the next few episodes, find out the whole thing was a fraud. They were played. On top of that, Dantana edited an interview to make it seem like a 4-Star general was saying what Jerry wanted him to. Jerry gets fired and the team recants the story.
This sounds like kind of a big deal right? Lots of problems, lots of tension and so on, right? Nope. In fact for the most part Jerry Dantana comes off as a completely unlikable douche from the moment you meet him and continues to be that way up until the point he sues the entire cast for firing him. Not only that, once he’s fired he never appears again. He only seems to cause conflict from a distance. It’s weird to me that the season’s “villain” disappears off screen in the final three episodes.
All of the characters from season one are back, but most of them have changed… and not for the better. Characters that once had at least semi-interesting plotlines have been relegated to complete nonsense (I’m looking at you, Maggie), and others get storylines that just seem lazy. Like the writers (mostly Sorkin) didn’t know what to do with them. Jim, one of ACN’s top producers, gets put on a bus to cover the Romney campaign. This lasts for almost half the season. The only thing we get out of it is a new love interest for Jim, one who only appears via Skype now.
And for some reason, all but one of the plotlines from season one are dropped. The only plot thread that kept going was Mackenzie’s interest in what Will was saying to her on the voice mail. But even that goes away after two or three episodes. What happened to the thread about Will’s life being threatened? Remember he had Terry Crews as his bodyguard? There’s not even a single mention of what happened to all that. What about Neil? He had a storyline last season of trying to infiltrate a group of internet trolls using Sloan Sabbath as a punching bag. Gone and forgotten. At least this season ended with only one potential plot thread for next season and it’s a big one. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get thrown out like all the others.
To be fair, there were a few highlights to this season. My favorite was how the show treated Occupy Wall Street. The movement was essentially a joke from the moment it started and thankfully the show treated it as such. Watching the woman who was their “leader” get eviscerated on live television by Will was a treat.
The worst problem of all though, was it felt like nothing happened this season. When the season finale aired, I couldn’t believe that was it. It felt like a midseason two-parter. Some of the characters “changed”? I’m not even sure anymore. Few of them wind up in different places than where they were at the start of the season and those places aren’t exactly natural for the characters. A lot of it felt forced. For a show that started off so well in its first season it was more than disappointing to see it fall so far down the rabbit hole. We didn’t even get a renewal for the show from HBO and frankly, I’m not sure I want a third season. Not if it’s going to turn out anything like this season.