Aaron Sorkin Apologizes For 'The Newsroom' but Forgets To Say Sorry for His Terrible Female Characters
Sometimes, you just have to tuck your tail between your legs and own up to a mistake. Aaron Sorkin apologized for The Newsroom, insisting he's not using the show as a platform for how to tell real life journalists what they got wrong by doing it right with his cranky anti-hero at ACN, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). At the Tribeca Film Festival, Sorkin issued his formal "mea culpa" in a discussion with Jon Favreau to an audience of the press, saying that he'd like to "start over" and that he's "just now starting to learn how to write" the show. That seems odd for a show that's about to enter it's third and final season, BUT whatever, right? This is Aaron Sorkin, and he can apparently do whatever he wants.
I’m going to let you all stand in for everyone in the world, if you don’t mind. I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with 'The Newsroom' and I apologize and I’d like to start over.
The apology is kind of satisfying, but shouldn't it include a "my bad" for all the less-than-satisfying, screeching harpies of women that he creates? It's no secret that Sorkin's worlds are dominated by macho, macho men who are extremely heteronormative, but they are always put on a pedestal by these subservient, less-than women.
In The Newsroom, he's particularly grievous: MacKenzie, Will's ex and his executive producer, has power and agency and yet, still, her position at ACN is put second to the fact that she and Will once had A Thing. Their romantic storyline takes precedence and she is constantly at the mercy of the gruff McAvoy. The rest of the ladies aren't much better—Maggie is a tearful mess, and Sloan is constantly being undermined by how attractive she is. Will is painted as a troubled, complex anti-hero whose mistakes can be explained by his inner demons, but what are these capable female journalists doing flailing around? There's no explanation for their missteps, except for, "Haha, they're just stupid girls."
Whatever happened to the glorious Sorkin heroine, C.J. Cregg? Allison Janney's Cregg on The West Wing is the only Sorkin leading lady who wasn't painted as a total imbecile, and she held her own as the press secretary, often challenging President Martin Sheen. But since C.J., Sorkin has reduced his women to stepladders and spotlights for his men, and for that, he needs to issue the real apology.
We'll be waiting.