Don't Be Fooled By 'The Newsroom,' 'Big Brother' is Sunday's Smartest Show
The Newsroom , which had its Season 2 premiere on HBO on Sunday night, is a very stupid show masquerading as a very smart one. Yes, there's that patented brand of chest-thumping, fast-paced Aaron Sorkin speak that preaches to its own choir, but it's a show that quite literally lives in the past. In more ways than one.
The drama serves as nothing more than a soapbox for Sorkin to cry that cable news was once great (though, as The Daily Show has been proving for years, is most certainly not the case) and that we need to go back to that. The sentiment is fine (hell, I still hold out hope newspapers survive), but the denial that there's an entirely new world of media out there, in which people get their news instantly on Twitter, rather than the 6 o'clock news, makes it out-of-touch and frustrating.
Season 2 kicked off hopping in the way, way back machine all the way to August 2011. SOPA! Romney's campaign! Gaddafi's compound seized! Rebecca Black's "Friday"! Remember all that? Of course you do, it happened two years ago. But it's not the recent history that's the problem, it's the lack of shedding any new light on it. Well, that and these people never seem to email or instant message each other like everyone else in the media and the planet. (Although, we've seen how well these characters do with email.)
So, why do I bring Big Brother into this conversation? Well, because the reality series is a very smart show living under the guise of a very stupid one. Don't get me wrong, the show has some very stupid things: the competitions are nothing short of insane and it's the only series on television that has a wise-cracking robot that zings humans. It has some tremendously dumb aspects and some tremendously dumb people. Aaron (Sorkin, that is) may be annoying, but he doesn't even come close to the walking, talking nightmare that is Aaryn.
But Big Brother, unlike The Newsroom, is never dull and it taps into the current psyche of viewers. While The Newsroom was waxing poetic about Occupy Wall Street, the housemates of Big Brother echoed conversations about race that are on the forefront of media and the American people right now in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. The Newsroom will get around to that topic in about two years, so hang tight!
Now, Big Brother and The Newsroom do have some similarities: most of the the characters are insultingly daft and melodramatic. And, ah yes, there is some sexism. No, Sorkin's views on women don't even come close to the horrific views as houseguests like Spencer, but he's still getting his digs in here and there. "Women try things," the irritatingly smug Will McAvoy exclaimed about a female colleague's new, shorter haircut. Women be tryin'!
On the surface, Big Brother may seem like another insipid reality show tearing at the fabric of our society, but if anything it's a fascinating, often sad reflection of the very one that's coming apart at the seams. It shows what people do with power, how they interact with people from various backgrounds, and what they'll do to get ahead for money and fame. Some of these people are good, a lot of them are bad, but they are always fascinating psychological and sociological cases.
Will McAvoy would be repulsed and confused by this group of people who willingly put themselves out there to have their whole lives watched and analyzed. But you know who else does that? Everyone on Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and just about every other social media outlet. For better or worse, Big Brother taps into a more honest representation of what's going on in this country. The Newsroom, so self-important and so outdated, will never feel of this time. Especially not on Sunday nights.