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Lisin

S03.E01: Boston

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I think you and I have very different ideas of what "feminist" means. I don't necessarily see something as "feminist" if it shows women being superheroes or not making mistakes or catching things men might catch or not. I see something as "feminist" if it represents women as complete human beings and as intellectual equals to men. The people on The Newsroom are all flawed: they're all bumbling and silly, they do stupid things and make stupid mistakes. Sometimes they say mean things to one another; sometimes they do mean things to one another. Sometimes they yell; sometimes they cry or stew. Many, many times they're kind and compassionate. They're imperfect and complex, a lot like the people I know in real life. I don't need characters in stories to make all the right choices or fit feminist stereotypes or put forth a feminist agenda. (I actually don't need anyone to do that.) All I care about is that the men and women come at each other and battle each other as equals: equally flawed, equally smart, equally capable, equally quippy, etc. This show has that in spades. No one bowls anyone over in the brains department, and if we're getting picky, it's usually the women who win the intellectual and ethical arguments and the men who fall into line. (Neal is an exception, maybe Charlie too, though he was glaringly wrong about Genoa.)
 

 

When the season started, Maggie was the former girl-next-door who (gasp!) cut her hair, (double gasp!) dyed it and (GASP!) had inappropriate relationships with men! All of this was viewed through Jim's paternalistic "something's wrong with Maggie" gaze.

 

Why is it that you look at this situation and assume you're meant to judge Maggie negatively? I didn't, and neither did most of the other characters. Mac, Will, Gary, and Hallie all understood why Maggie was having the trouble she did, and I don't think it's especially strange or "female" to have a meltdown when a child you're carrying is shot and killed. You are absolutely correct that we saw Maggie's breakdown through Jim's eyes, but that doesn't mean we were meant to agree with Jim's perspective. In this situation, I judged Jim both positively (for being caring) and negatively (for being paternalistic). He's a young man; it's incredibly common for young men to have trouble sorting out their place within modern gender roles. He's also been shown to be somewhat self-righteous and plenty arrogant. I mean, he flat-out asked Hallie if he made her feel dumb. That's who the character of Jim is. We can like or dislike him (I personally don't mind him because I think he's more caring than paternalistic and is finding his way), but story isn't about putting forth a political agenda. It's about creating believable characters that the audience wants to follow. I completely believe Jim as a person, flaws and all, and I'm interested in seeing what happens to him. For me, there's nothing more to his actions than that.

 

Re: Mac and the shot clock: Mac had to be the one to unravel Genoa. I saw that coming from the very first episode of season two because as the show's conscience, that's her place in the story. She's the one who has been established to be unwaveringly ethical, so for her to sanction something unethical is a classic example of dramatic irony and it shows that her staunch ethics (in this case to expose Genoa) can also be a tragic flaw. (That's also why it was Mac who cheated on Will and was brought down by her belief that she had to tell him the truth about it.) Mac wasn't vaunted for the shot-clock discovery because Will or other men were too dumb to figure it out; it was because that's her role. She's one of the heroes, and in the end, she overcame her tragic flaw and saved the day. That's just the rules of storytelling, and the fact that this show presents men and women as the heroes or the villains or the secondary players without attention to gender is what makes it feminist for me.

Edited by madam magpie
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I see something as "feminist" if it represents women as complete human beings and as intellectual equals to men.

 

Fair enough. I don't believe the show has done that either. Jim made a stupid mistake on the Romney campaign -- he was kicked off the bus. He was given a chance to grow and learn. He was shown as flawed and allowed to recover. But there was no shot of all the senior people standing around teary-eyed as little Jim learned from his mistakes, the way it was when Maggie sported Mac's expensive heels and low-cut black dress and reported a story all by her lonesome! Again, a show praising women for being competent is not feminist. It's not treating them like human beings. It's giving them special treatment and praise, like a parent losing their mind over a toddler taking a couple steps. When a man reports a story, who cares? When a woman does it, it's (no pun intended) newsworthy! That's not treating women as equals, to me.

 

we saw Maggie's breakdown through Jim's eyes, but that doesn't mean we were meant to agree with Jim's perspective.

 

Sure, it does. Where was Maggie's perspective? We were told something was wrong, something was different about Maggie. We weren't allowed (as viewers) to go to Maggie for the real story until much later. It was all hushed whispers and furtive glances. The woman came back wrong. We weren't given another perspective -- we had no clue what happened to Maggie. As a result, viewers had to see her like Jim did, and as the show presented her: different, damaged, newly promiscuous. There was no other viewpoint, since we weren't allowed into her head from the beginning. We were asked to judge her, through Jim's eyes.

 

But I'm just going to stop here, because the fact that negative words like "agenda" and "political" are being used to describe feminism makes me certain we have very different interpretations about what it means.

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I don't believe the show has done that either. Jim made a stupid mistake on the Romney campaign -- he was kicked off the bus. He was given a chance to grow and learn. He was shown as flawed and allowed to recover. But there was no shot of all the senior people standing around teary-eyed as little Jim learned from his mistakes, the way it was when Maggie sported Mac's expensive heels and low-cut black dress and reported a story all by her lonesome!

 

Jim and Maggie are different people, and the points of their stories are totally different. Jim's "fall" was fairly innocuous. He was self-righteous (though maybe ethically right), kicked off the Romney bus, and had to find his way. What he actually did in the end was meet up with Taylor at ACN on election night, throw his weight around, and be an asshole to her. That wasn't Jim learning any lesson; it was Jim being Jim. It was Maggie who learned something, picked up the wreckage of Jim's Romney bus self-righteousness, bonded with Taylor, and propelled the plot along with the tip Taylor gave her. Jim, then, got a bit of comeuppance from Maggie trumping him.

 

In Maggie's case, she pitched her first big story, went all the way to Africa basically alone (save Gary), had a kid she was carrying shot dead after a terrifying raid in the dark, and came home a wreck. No one at her job knew whether or not she'd recover from that and have the mental fortitude to pick up the story in Boston. They were skeptical, yes; that happens when someone seems to have been a wreck. Mackenzie even jumped to an unfair conclusion when they were on the phone, and initially judged Maggie's decision to follow the John King lead as a poor one. But Mac kept listening and changed her tune pretty quickly, Maggie made some really good moves, and they all came around to "hey, Maggie's doing all right and seems OK now. Yay."

 

Sure, it does. Where was Maggie's perspective? We were told something was wrong, something was different about Maggie. We weren't allowed (as viewers) to go to Maggie for the real story until much later. It was all hushed whispers and furtive glances. The woman came back wrong. We weren't given another perspective -- we had no clue what happened to Maggie. As a result, viewers had to see her like Jim did, and as the show presented her: different, damaged, newly promiscuous. There was no other viewpoint, since we weren't allowed into her head from the beginning. We were asked to judge her, through Jim's eyes.

 

I didn't feel asked to judge Maggie until I had all the information. It sounds like what you're saying is that Aaron Sorkin should have dropped the rules of storytelling (which say "create suspense, don't tell everything up front, make your audience care and then drop the bomb") so that it didn't look to some viewers like Jim's perspective mattered more than Maggie's. I don't agree with that. Sorkin doesn't owe us that plotline, and he doesn't owe it to Maggie just because she's a girl. I see Jim and Maggie as individuals and judge them as such. "What happened to Maggie" was a mystery. That's why we weren't told the result right away. We saw it from different points of view as clues before getting the details. In writing, that's called "building suspense." Once again, it's legit to say we do or don't like that tactic or that storyline, but it's not sexist just because it happened to be a woman at the center of the "What happened to..." plotline.

 

I don't think feminism has an agenda and it's not political, but the public definitely tries to make it so. I think that approach, much more than any sexism around today, demeans women because it makes them and their stories only important as they relate to the men around them. The women themselves aren't seen as individuals with their own agency and stories; they're judged collectively as "women." Ultimately, I want to be judged as me, not as a woman and certainly not as compared to the behavior of the men around me. I think that The Newsroom presents and judges women as individuals rather than as a group.

Edited by madam magpie
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I don't know whether The Newsroom is feminist or not. I will say that The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation, House of Cards, The Mindy Project, Orange is the New Black and Orphan Black as shows are all definitely more "feminist" (however you define it) than The Newsroom as far I'm concerned. So it's definitely not my top 5. And probably lower since these were the 6 that were top of mind, and I can think of many more fairly immediately - including, Nashville and The Vampire Diaries, both of which, IMO have stronger, more rounded, female characters. 

 

*thinks some more*

 

Rizzoli and Isle. Suits(ish). Agents of Shield. So You Think You Can Dance. White Collar. 

Aaaand now it's just me reading my 'Shows I follow' list, so I'll stop. 

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Oh yeah, I forgot about Orphan Black. That show is definitely feminist. All of the women are judged entirely as individuals, and that notion is even built into the core premise of the show. The Americans is pretty raging feminist too, with the husband and wife totally coming at each other as equals. I'd call Nashville horribly sexist, though; the lives of the women on that show revolve around their men, so much so that the primary season two cliffhanger was "which man will Rayna choose." I don't watch any of the other shows you mention except So You Think You Can Dance, and I don't think that takes a side at all. It just is, though I know plenty of people who think Nigel demeans women (I don't think that personally; I've just heard it a lot). The Newsroom stands out to me because it's women in business, and that's something I can relate to. If all women in business were so lucky as to be treated and viewed the way Mac, Sloan, and Maggie are by their superiors and their partners, it would be a wonderful world.

Edited by madam magpie

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Fair enough. I don't believe the show has done that [treat men and women as equals] either.

 

[snip]

 

Sure, it does. Where was Maggie's perspective? We were told something was wrong, something was different about Maggie. We weren't allowed (as viewers) to go to Maggie for the real story until much later.

Hi, eolivet!  I agree with much of what you're saying and am heading over to your new thread to drop some thoughts on Maggie and Mac.

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I agree, actually. I understand that all the characters are flawed and so on but there's definitely a kind of condescension to most of the female characters and we are most certainly in the male gaze.

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I'd call Nashville horribly sexist, though; the lives of the women on that show revolve around their men, so much so that the primary season two cliffhanger was "which man will Rayna choose." I don't watch any of the other shows you mention except So You Think You Can Dance, and I don't think that takes a side at all. It just is, though I know plenty of people who think Nigel demeans women (I don't think that personally; I've just heard it a lot). The Newsroom stands out to me because it's women in business, and that's something I can relate to. 

 

If you like women in business, I'd recommend checking out quite a few of the shows mentioned above :o) Re: Nashville, I was pointing out that even a show as sexist as it is, IMO, it is still better at portraying strong, flawed, kickass women characters than The Newsroom is. Rayna's story has not just been about Deacon, but also the ageing diva finding a new voice, and a new record label owner. Who is successful professionally and has reasonably well brought up children and a strained relationship with her father. Juliette is more about the stupid choices she makes, some of which are romantic. Scarlett, the Maggie equivalent, one would say, stands up for herself quite well, and kicked Gunnar to the kerb (and Avery) as soon as their behaviour became untenable. Compare that the Maggie who, when we met, was being treated insufferably by Don and cried because Don wouldn't meet her parents. So, even Nashville has better female characters than The Newsroom. As a whole. (Of course, Rebecca Halliday and Leona Lansing are awesome, but they are guests). I also think that the show puts Mac on a pedestal, with almost a Madonna / whore thing going (whore here is more incompetence though, not prostitution) way more than Nashville does to Rayna. 

 

re: So You Think You Can Dance, with the ratio of female to male winners, I think it's doing more for female empowerment than 10 Newsrooms combined. 

 

Going back to Boston err, I don't have anything new to say really. Though I did laugh at Maggie trying to stay focused on her crunches before giving up and checking her messages. 

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I'd say that's romanticizing Nashville a bit.  Rayna is also smack in the middle of an abusive relationship with a man who is manipulating the shit out of her and she has yet to stand up for herself no matter what he does.  

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We are at risk of veering very much off topic, so I'll make this my last post. I'm not doubting that Nashville is sexist. It is. Objectively however, comparing stories, characters and arcs, it is still a lot better than The Newsroom in terms of strong women characters who own their s*** and their flaws. 

 

Ultimately, my point really is that The Newsroom, is by no means one of the most feminist shows on television. Not by a long shot. YMMV, of course. 

Edited by romantic idiot
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Just catching up on this show after a few weeks of vacation, and have to say that I loved this episode.  I was engrossed the entire episode, and they've somehow made all of the characters more interesting and likeable than past seasons, even the ones that I didn't like (Maggie).  I'm going to miss this show when it wraps up.

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Anyone wonders about 2 things below:
1) What've happened about Genova case? Although they retracted the story, there's something hadn't been revealed which is conclusion of the lawsuit that filed by Terry Dantana? Who've won the lawsuit?
2) At premiere of season 3, when Will gets notified about Boston bombing, he makes mysterious calls. Not once, twice. Who was that and what's the connection to all story?

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We never found out what happened to the lawsuits. Yes, Don was being sued for saying Dantana was a psychopath. He also said he was going to counter-sue Dantana.

It is all fanfic now, whatever we want it to happen.

 

I don't remember Will calls in this episode, but his mysterious calls in other episodes during the Genoa case were to his sources, presumably in the government. I think one of the sources was the same person who was Charlie's source

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Well, it seems the lawsuit is left to viewer's wish.

 

However, Will's source of Genoa tip is highly same as Charlie's source. At season 2 episode 7 named Red Team III, when Rebecca interviews with Sloan about the lawsuit, she insistly asks Sloan "anyone think to ask if Charlie's source and Will's source were the same person?". So, Will wouldn't call the unreliable source again.

Although that, I've checked this episode and I've found that Will hands paper to Jenna and says "it's White House number, just call, don't ask name of the person and give my name". Wish they've had explained all story and connections before it ended.

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