We like The Newsroom. And we want to love it. Honestly, we do.
Aaron Sorkin's weekly hour of HBO makes the news business inspirational the same way The West Wing made politics actually seem like a force for good: Put the right people in the right positions and We The People can do amazing things.
But wow, Mr. Sorkin, you really, really need to stop trying to push us away.
We love the drama of the news. Because The Newsroom is set in the recent past, you get to skip the melodrama of having to explain how things turn out and let us focus on how different people react to things. The characters can have discussions about what's valued not only by the news media but also by what we value as a nation. We think and we feel. We cry.
But watching the show is like listening to a kids' violin recital. Everything's great and beautiful and then ohmygodmyearsarebleedingandonfire.
We've tuned in every week, and we find ourselves bracing for the inevitable moment when we pause the TiVo, take a deep breath and re-evaluate our life choices.
Please, just make it better. You don't even need to add anything new. Just take out all the awful parts. Addition through subtraction!
So if your name is Aaron Sorkin, we have a couple of tips for you:
Tip No. 1: When you're in the middle of a huge news story—say, Osama Bin Laden getting shot in the face by Navy Seals—how about you don't take a time out to let Maggie and Jim discuss their non-romance yet again? There are so many interesting relationship possibilities in the world, and we already have Will secretly pining for Mackenzie. These "we need to talk about our relationship right now" moments make Maggie look like an idiot. And then we hate our TVs for showing us these digressions. Don't make us hate our TVs.
Tip No. 2: We're huge fans of recycling, but if we see one more West Wing plot point, we're out. No joke. Will has insomnia and needs to see a therapist so he can talk about his abusive father? That's a Jed Bartlett photocopy. We might have forgiven that one had it not occurred in the exact same episode where a mysterious person emails a death threat requiring Will to reluctantly accept a bodyguard. The only thing missing was Will wearing a black Vera Wang.
There are still three episodes left this season, and we remain hopeful that the show will find its heart. For now, we still can't look away. We just want to be captivated by something wonderful and awesome, instead of staring incredulously at a train wreck.