Monday, July 30, 2012

The Newsroom: Sloan & Will are Bullies

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

"I'm going to single-handedly fix the internet." If I had a dollar for every time someone said that... No, seriously, though, Will says this when he decides not to allow anonymous comments on their website anymore. Now, why he thought that would improve things, I'm not sure. If smart people aren't posting now, what makes you think that enforcing regulations would draw them out? Still, Will thinks he can make things better just by doing that. It kinda makes me think about how NBC is single-handedly breaking our favorite once-every-four-years hot-weather competitions. [for the hundredth time, I hate being censored, but that's the way it is.] Except, Will didn't fix things and NBC is making things worse. But, I digress. This episode was FULL of stuff. We get a TON about Will's background, we find that Don is getting more and more jealous of Jim, we have Charlie actually being gruff, and we have Sloan growing a spine. And, all at the same time, there's so much more! It was so much that I actually didn't like the episode. I understand it's a drama. I understand that it's on HBO so it gets more time than an average drama episode. But there IS such a thing as being inundated with information to the point of being overwhelmed, and I think that is what happened here. I don't know if I was the only one to feel this way, so comment and let me know what you thought.

The Newsroom "Bullies" (S01E06): This episode takes place in mid-April, 2011. [it actually covers the second-longest period of time since the show stated, I believe.] Will is making on-air mistakes and we find out he's been having insomnia. He goes to his therapist for sleeping pill... apparently he's been paying for standing appointments for the past four years, although he doesn't go. He's so out-of-touch, in fact, that his actual therapist passed away two years ago and he's now going to be seeing Abe's son, Jack. [I'm curious as to how much Mac knows of Will's troubles... she knew who Abe was...] But, before we get to the appointment, let's look at what's been going on at work...

Charlie wants to do opposition research on Will so they know what the next TMI story will be, and Mac has Jim and Maggie get on it. Well, they start with the fact that "Maggie" filed an HR complaint about Will after he yelled at her for confusing Georgia the state with Georgia the country. [that was one of my favorite mistakes EVER last year! so many people made it! so the jokes here had me pausing to catch my breath after a while!] Anyway, a desk reporter saw and reported it as if she were Maggie. [who apparently wouldn't complain if her hair was on fire, LoL.] Maggie also thought that LoL meant "lots of love," not "laugh out loud." [um, it's not 1997, so I'm not sure what happened there... just lost a lot of interest in her character, though.] The search uncovers mainly useless information, the most interesting of which was that, in 2005, Will was offered a late-night show in LA that he didn't take. Mac gets mad at him but he reveals he was going to propose at that time, and he still has the ring in his office. [WHAAAAAT?????] In reality, however, it's new. He had someone pick it up for him so he could make a point. [biggest.eye.roll.ever.]

There's a segment of the show where Will addresses comments on their website, and after Neal doesn't have any good ones to put up on a certain night, Will demands no more anonymous comments and wants a system in place that would require names, ages, occupations, and levels of education. [again, how will this raise the quality of the comments?] Of course, three days later, someone has hacked the system and threatens Will because of an on-air segment about the Islamic Center going up near Ground Zero. Next thing you know, WIll has to have a bodyguard anytime he is someplace other than home and work. [loved him! I doubt he'll stick around but what a quippy character!] 

On April 11th, the nuclear reactor went off in Japan. Sloan personally knows someone in TEPCO and calls him, having a private conversation in Japanese where she learns that things are much more serious than the public knows. [ugh. don't like her in those glasses!] Then, Don asks her to cover for Elliot in the 10pm slot (she was his sixth choice), so she asks Will for advice on how to get on-air guests to tell the truth. He tells her not to let up on them and to keep using the facts until they come clean. Well, she goes a bit too far, badgering the TEPCO guy live. She even starts asking questions in Japanese because she accuses the translator of having ulterior motives. [well, she was probably from PR and all...] Before long, she's bringing up the "off the record" part of their conversation, completely ignoring Don, who was calling the show. [pulling out the earpiece was a bit much, though.]
Charlie is the one who actually yells at her, threatening suspension because of the "research" she quoted. (it would force an investigation of all of the reports she's done for the past two years.) Will, of course, feels responsible because he told her to be aggressive. The next day, the group finds a Japanese broadcast that talks about Sloan, which she has to translate - the TEPCO guy is stepping down. [I imagine this would also make news in English...] Sloan asks Will how to fix things. [just where did this big brother/little sister relationship come from? it kinda took me by surprise anyway!] Well, Charlie discovers that the Japanese words for "four" and "seven" sound alike, so he tells Sloan that she needs to go on-air, say that she's no longer fluent in Japanese, and that she misunderstood the numbers. [not the worst plan ever, Charlie. but geez, no integrity!] Mac doesn't think it's worth it, as the threat is now at a 7 regardless, but Will tells her to go ahead and lie on the air. Why? He might have felt bad for her career as a teacher... because, several nights ago, he forced a Temple professor to realize that others found him unfit to teach. See, Will badgered Sutton Wall, the campaign adviser to Santorum, because he's a gay man working for a candidate who believes that homosexuals are destroying the sanctity of marriage. [I don't actually know how much truth is being stretched here... watch for the latest Factroom.]

Now, back to Will's therapy appointment... we learn he doesn't exercise, eats two breakfast sandwiches before going to bed every night, used to be on anti-anxiety medication, was depressed before, has an alcoholic abusive father who he began to fight when he was in fifth grade, was a criminal prosecutor (this fact was probably disclosed before, though), and is afraid of being a bully. [yeah, again, I said it was a lot to take in!]

On a side note, we learn that Jim studied abroad in the Arctic to see penguins... he didn't know they were in the Antarctic, and when he tried to fraternize with an Inuit, he got kicked out of the program. [UNBELIEVABLE!]
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