MAGGIE.And other women I love:

Alison Pill’s meek Maggie, who is pushed around by her newsbeau on the show, and once hid under a dorm-room bed while the guy who stashed her there had sex with an old girlfriend — is a more annoying version of Donna from Sorkin’s West Wing, someone we’ll get to watch grow, and who will probably grow on us.

Or must all the women on the show be strong as well as brave? To those who complain about how often the male characters tell their female counterparts what to think and do, I’d just say that’s been known to happen in real newsrooms, too.

Not every female character must carry the banner of the sisterhood in just the same way, be a heroine or a villainness, but always strong. I remember the same complaints about Donna and CJ (who is my motherfucking homegirl) and especially Dana Whittaker because of what a train wreck her personal life was, but they were all exponentially more interesting than anybody on the Walking Dead.


Look, this is the thing. This is the thing that Sports Night got, that still makes me talk about it the way I talk about the church, like I hear your arguments and just WHATEVER, okay, because all you have to know about anything is that when shit blows up none of it matters at all.

I’m sorry. I’m kind of incoherent.

Maggie’s a mess and Jim’s confused and Don’s an asshole and Will is just so very, very, very screwed up, and Charlie’s been trying to inappropriately protect everyone and Sloan is really working her way into the right side of my heart, and Neal is on about Bigfoot and is clearly a little bit crazy about this. But none of it matters, because when something happens, you need these people, exactly these. Yes, even the one who was getting drinks thrown at him all night. Yes, even the one who can’t parse out her feelings for anybody, not even herself. Yes, even the one who cheated on you. Even the one who hates you. Even the one who has paranoid delusions and is talking to himself.

You need these people in just this combination to create the moment of grace that happens when you feel that connection between you and your unnamed, unknowable audience as though it’s a physical line, when you are telling them something they desperately need to know in the absolute best way you can possibly figure out how, when you are singing to God with the only voice you possess about the most important thing you can think of to say. And none of the rest of it matters. I spent the whole episode getting absolutely fucking annoyed with all the stupid love storylines and then it all just melted away and it was perfect.

I have worked for people I wouldn’t throw a rope to if they were drowning, and people who feel the same way about me. This show’s so hard to talk about without getting personal. But when the chips were down it didn’t matter that we drove each other up a tree, that we had completely different processes and coped utterly differently, we found the same fundamental thing important, which is why we were all there in the first place. And when you have a bunch of people who all get the same thing that deep, that true, you can overlook a lot of stuff that would otherwise make it impossible to be in the same room.

Like how somebody cheated on you and broke your heart, and how somebody else is a smug Republican dillweed a lot of the time, and how appropriate workplace boundaries really should be maintained, and how Bigfoot is in no possible way real.

You can overlook all of that, because something much bigger has just happened, and everybody stops, and begins again.

Quick takes: Oh man, Maggie and Don and Jim. Am I out of line for suggesting a threesome to resolve this situation? This is what happens when you spend all your time together in basically a hole, where the normal rules of peacetime don’t apply. Boundaries get blurry and even if this wasn’t about Maggie secretly wanting to hit that, there’s a sense of ownership that happens when you’re the one who spends the most time around somebody. I’m not saying it’s okay, but it’s there.

I want a Tess and Gary and Kendra episode where they just get together and talk about how shitty and stupid everyone else is. And Neal’s hot girlfriend was in no way a surprise, I mean, he’s Dev Patel, men women and pets should be throwing themselves at him.

(I have a Jon Tenney problem, with Mackenzie’s seemingly nice boyfriend, because he plays the Worst Husband on TV, on The Closer, so I recoil whenever he’s on screen.)

CHARLIE. Can somebody, possibly whoever is writing me the Doc Cottle episode of Galactica I never got, PLEASE write me the hot fanfiction of Leona and Charlie in the Vietnam War, and how she was The One he was referring to? I love his loving and bewildered response to Will most of the time.

“You’re a fucking newsman, Don. I ever tell you otherwise, you punch me in the face.” Typed out, that does not look like a line that should have made me burst into tears, but there we are. It doesn’t matter. All the betrayals and all the other nonsense, none of it mattered, because in that moment they trusted each other to do the job. Boy, I hope next week just sucks nuts because two of these in a row just might kill me.


5 thoughts on “YOU’RE A FUCKING NEWSMAN, DON: The Newsroom Thread

  1. I LOVE The Newsroom, first of all. I do think the Maggie-Jim dynamic is shaping up to be a mirror of the Donna-Josh thing. I was hoping we wouldn’t see the exact same West Wing characters/relationships recycled in a different setting. But we’ll see. I do find Maggie annoying as hell, but then IIRC from episode one she started as an intern. So I am trying to be patient with her.
    I do have one question, never having worked in a high-powered cable newsroom. There seems to be a real informality in the newsroom, low-level staffers calling Sam Waterston’s character by his first name, when he’s president of the news division … stuff like that. That strikes me as weird but I don’t know, is that how things work at at the NBC Nightly News, for instance? Can assistants just barge in on a conversation between Brian Williams and Steve Capus?
    I don’t know.

  2. “someone we’ll get to watch grow, and who will probably grow on us.”
    and who will probably run the place by the end of the show

  3. Wowzah. I just watched the first episode of Political Animals on USA — Sigourney Weaver as a HIllary Clinton type. Really good! Maybe that feminist version of The Newsroom people are looking for?

  4. I don’t know how it works at, say, a TV newsroom, but everybody called the managing editor by his first name at the papers where I worked. It might depend on the person, like I would have expected Charlie, with his dapper bowtie and whatnot, to get a “sir,” but maybe he doesn’t want that. I had an editor for a while who wanted to be called Mister such and such, but he also tried to institute a dress code where all the ladies had to wear skirts and all the men had to wear ties (never mind we were always going to construction sites and crime scenes and shit), so his title formality just became a symbol of his douchetasticness.

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