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The popular new HBO series The Newsroom is set to return for its second season shortly. For those of you who missed the first season, or need a bit of a refresher, there were a lot of exciting events that went down in the first season, and many of them are important to note going into its second season. The show received two Golden Globe nominations last year, for best drama series and best performance by an actor in a drama series for the show’s star, Jeff Daniels. For those that are planning to watch and are not yet aware, the season two premiere is approaching shortly. It will air on HBO on Sunday Nights at 10 PM, starting on July 14.
The first season of The Newsroom introduced us to each of the main characters and gave viewers an idea of the show’s atmosphere. The show centers around the main character, Will McAvoy (Daniels) and the behind the scenes events that occur at the fictional Atlantic Cable News, and one of the channel’s specific shows: News Night. McAvoy is also paired with his executive producer, Mackenzie McHale who also happens to be his ex-wife, which causes a number of problems for them and the newsroom throughout the show. It is also largely built off of a strong ensemble; the casting is an intricate part of what makes the show so entertaining and well-crafted. The newsroom staff includes Jim (John Gallagher), Maggie (Allison Pill), Sloan (Olivia Munn), Neal (Dev Patel) and Don (Thomas Sadoski). In addition to the regular newsroom staff, Sam Waterston plays their stern and straight-laced boss, while we see guest appearances from stars such as Jane Fonda, Terry Crews and Patton Oswalt as well. Aaron Sorkin, the creative writer behind The West Wing and other well known projects, writes the excellent and engrossing scripts that find everyone on the edge of their seat during episodes of The Newsroom.
Each episode from the first season was designed around a major news event from the country’s recent past, including the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the controversial immigration bill that was passed in Arizona. While it is often major events such as these on which the show focuses, the show’s writers count on audiences being fairly familiar with the issues, and as a result do not go into too much detail about the events themselves. Instead, the show uses these real-life events as a backdrop for the interpersonal drama that goes down between the characters on the show and problems that may happen in a news station, due to a mistake made by one of the staff members or how a story could affect the public. Even though the station is dealing with news events with which people are already acquainted, the show is designed to make viewers curious about the outcome and very interested in how the events will play out.
The season begins with anchor Will McAvoy returning to work after a public disaster to find that most of his staff has abandoned him, leaving him forced to work with his ex-wife as an executive producer (at first he refuses to do so). This episode is set in April of 2010, and with several real life events playing out throughout the season, the show is able to progress up until August of 2011, dealing with events such as the crisis with the debt ceiling and the drama surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner when he was forced out of office. Other major events that were covered throughout the season include the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis that followed the devastating earthquake in Japan, the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the ejection of Egypt’s president, among others.
Each episode of The Newsroom has its comedic moments as well, and much of the story is also built on the relationships between characters. It is a new type of show that we have not seen before, and this show is perfect for those people that like to hear about serious things while being entertained at the same time. Personal issues between characters arise throughout the show, as early as the second episode when an email is accidentally sent from Will to Mackenzie revealing things about their relationship to the whole department. Will also becomes big news in the tabloids after an awkward confrontation with a gossip columnist while at a New Year’s Eve party, an incident that seriously threatens his credibility on a current news investigation. Will continues to grapple with other personal problems including insomnia, which leads him to go to regular therapy sessions and the choice to have a bodyguard (Terry Crews) at his side at all times.
Toward the end of the season, there is a blackout at the station and the ratings for News Night are up in the air after the show passes on a pair of key stories. This forces Will and Mackenzie to work on a finding a way to bring back enough viewers in order to justify ACN’s quest to host a Republican debate on the network. After the blackout ends just in time for the show, the crew previews their new debate format for Republican Party officials. In the season finale, Will suffers an acute case of bleeding from a stomach ulcer, forcing him to be hospitalized. While in the hospital, Will learns that an elderly Tennessee resident was not able to vote because of the strict voter ID laws that were just passed in 33 states, which was the main story when he returned to News Night. TMI gossip columnist Nina Howard also has information that could easily destroy Will’s career and life; she knows that he was high when he read the report on Bin Laden.
Disaster is averted, however, after it is revealed that Howard’s magazine obtained the information by hacking Mackenzie’s voice-mail. The other minor characters have their problems as well; Maggie is epsecially troubled, suffering multiple breakdowns throughout the season; we will look to see how she resolves her problems in the coming season. We also wonder what will happen with Will and Mackenzie. The second season is also set to have a slightly different format, focusing more on certain characters rather than the ensemble cast all the time. How do viewers feel about this change? What will the future bring for each of the characters? Any ideas on what news stories will be covered? Tune in next Sunday, July 14 at 10 PM and throughout the summer to find out.