The Newsroom Aired Its Boston Marathon Episode
If TV is something you turn to for an escape, then you’ve likely found HBO’s The Newsroom, an unsettling experience with its depiction of real events that are a little too far gone to be relevant and a little too recent to be worth a revisit. For Bostonians, never was this discomfort more acute than during the Sunday night Season 3 premiere, which depicted the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
As promised in the preview—much groaned at in these parts—the episode, titled “Boston,” featured a whole lot of Capital-S Shouting about journalistic ethics. Especially for those who watched the bombings unfold from an actual newsroom setting, there was something very eerie about watching a what was probably one of the least pleasant professional memories done like a very high-budget historical reenactment—except, this time with more bloviating.
Predictably, writer Aaron Sorkin jumped at the chance to depict the big journalistic screw-ups and controversies of those weeks in order to opine on his vision of how journalism should work. Social media and citizen journalism were maligned at length. CNN took a hit for misreporting an arrest. It was classic Newsroom, made even more irksome with its focus on an event we all know too well, and don’t particularly like reliving.
That said, in its abbreviated final season, The Newsroom has some sense to play to its strengths. The episode didn’t focus entirely on Boston. Those events provided a backbone and backdrop as the show introduced plot lines drawn from its fictional world, including a leak of sensitive national security information à la Snowden and a corporate takeover of the network’s company. There was at least some suggestion that the show would learn from the lessons of Season 2 and focus on internal dramas rather than focus all its energy on rewriting recent journalistic history. If you’re the kind of person who has no interest in watching fictionalized media criticism about the Boston Marathon tragedy, but found at least some aspects of Sorkin’s show compelling last year, the premiere contained at least a little glimmer of hope that the final season might deliver something worth watching.