For a show entitled THE NEWSROOM, this HBO drama series is really more about the behind-the-scenes issues and relationships about those who try to broadcast the news than the news itself. As was hotly debated in the first season, what constitutes “news” is a slippery-slope between tabloid journalism, politics and personal opinions. But regardless of what qualifies, this series is at its best when it focuses on the stories in the lives of those who determine what is the news and the struggles they deal with day in and out to bring those stories to the airwaves.
THE NEWSROOM introduced us to the rich characters of Will McAvoy, MacKenzie McHale, Jim Harper, Maggie Jordan, Don Keefer, Neal Sampat, Sloan Sabbith, and Charlie Skinner. In a remarkable glimpse at how news becomes news, we learned that personal preferences, political alliances, and much more are involved in determining what is broadcast on a news network. Topics of the day, national disasters, legal issues, and personal interest stories all vie for the American media attention. Yet with only minutes or a few hours a day to convey so many topics, synthesizing down what is reported and what is not is fascinating. Some stories requires significant research and valid resources, others must be broadcast in order to be timely, and each goes through a differing degree of vetting.
For those fans who watched with fascination and admiration the first season, they are in for another amazing season of THE NEWSROOM. The dialogue is just as fast-paced, the characters are as flawed and quirky as ever, and the stories will intrigue as they are parceled out over the season.
The overshadowing political story of the second season is about a government cover-up that ACN investigates and then watches in horrors as it blows up in their face. Reporting the news carries a lot of weight. It can destroy lives and careers when it is wrong and a simple retraction is not enough to repair the damage that is done. So for Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) and their stalwart team of reporters, the second season of THE NEWSROOM is a look at how one false report can have long term repercussions.
The second season opens a year later as Will and MacKenzie slowly recount to their lawyers how they got a story so wrong. Their testimony is interspersed with flashbacks to where it all began — in the days after Will called the Tea Party “the American Taliban.” Will and Charlie (Sam Waterson) only thought they had gotten the upper hand on Leona (Jane Fonda) and Reese Lansing (Chris Messina). The ripple-effects from that word-choice goes beyond just keeping their jobs; there is an upcoming 10 year anniversary broadcast for 9/11 and Will is being asked to step-aside so it does not cause any further problems for the network.
Then on the love-triangle front, Maggie’s (Allison Pill) spontaneous outburst at the “Sex in the City” tour bus is not forgotten, and Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) unable to bear the sight of Maggie and Don’s (Thomas Sadoski) blissful romance volunteers to cover press for an upcoming political campaign for Mitt Romney.
Also rumbling around the edges is Neal’s (Dev Patel) latest pet-project, a new political group called Occupy Wallstreet. Even Sloan (Olivia Munn) takes an usual interest in U.S. drones, dabbling a bit in U.S. security issues versus her usual love for all things related to the U.S. economy.
THE NEWSROOM returns in fine form reminding us why we fell in love with it last summer. We were charmed by a group of passionate people striving to do their best in their jobs and to bring genuine news to their viewers. Their flaws only endeared them more as we saw they were people too: they loved, they bickered, they stubbled with career challenges, they survived monumental embarrassment and heart-breaking moments. We are intrigued and delighted that they have all returned to grace our television screens again this second season. We want to cheer with them and cry with them all over again.
THE NEWSROOM’s second season premieres Sunday, July 14th at 10:00 p.m. on HBO.
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