Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series The Newsroom is an interesting show. I’m a self-professed “Sorkin nut,” so I came into the pilot episode with a great sense of excitement. We’re now four episodes in, and it’s apparent to just about everyone that the series has some major problems. There’s genuinely a lot to love about The Newsroom, but it’s not exactly gelling as well as Sorkin’s past TV efforts (The West Wing, Sports Night). It now appears that the Academy Award-winning screenwriter himself is acknowledging that there are some issues with the show, as he has “let go” of most of his writing staff for season two. Hit the jump for more.
Per The Daily, Sorkin has fired most of The Newsroom’s staff writers: “They’re not coming back, except for Sorkin’s ex-girlfriend [Corinne Kinsbury].” Before everyone jumps to conclusions, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First off, Sorkin writes every single episode of the show. He managed this inhuman feat throughout his incredible four-season stint at showrunner on The West Wing, writing all but two or three episodes himself. It’s a task that he’s made abundantly clear he has no intention of giving up any time soon, per an interview with Vanity Fair earlier this year:
“I create these shows so that I can write them. I’m not an empire builder. I’m not interested in just producing. All I want to do is write. I came up as a playwright — writing is something you do by yourself in a room.”
He went on to add that he couldn’t possibly write this show without a room full of staff writers. If I understand correctly, his process consists of kicking around ideas with the staff, then going off to write the actual episodes himself. All this to say, don’t expect massive changes when The Newsroom returns for season two. It’s definitely encouraging that Sorkin is doing something in response to the critical backlash towards The Newsroom, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a complete 180 next year.
As I said, The Newsroom definitely has problems—the female characters could benefit from being portrayed as, you know, women and not simply damsels in distress or boy-obsessed. However, I’m a sucker for Sorkin’s romanticism and wit, and his talent still shines through in every episode of the show (thus far). Moreover, Alison Pill is the unsung hero of the series and I’m really, really hoping that Sorkin really lets her shine later this season. That girl is one hell of an actress.
It’ll be interesting to see how much of a difference—if any—this writers room shakeup makes come season two. It’s not uncommon for writing staffs to go through major changes from season to season (HBO said as much in their official response), and Mad Men creator/showrunner Matthew Weiner has gained a bit of a reputation for regularly firing writers off of the Emmy juggernaut series. For now, I’ll continue watching The Newsroom with a healthy amount of enjoyment and a dash of hopefulness that we see more of that West Wing greatness we all know Sorkin is capable of.