I’ll be honest with you, I assiduously avoid television and cable networks in general… and I avoided this show initially because I was just that certain that it was impossible for a show about “news” to be something other than a puff piece that glorified the current and abysmally sensationalist tripe that passes for “news”.
A week ago, mostly from sheer boredom and an oddly random curiosity about “what Daniels is up to” (I think it is that shot being used on the splash at HBO GO that did this; the profile and demeanor finally hooked me), I decided to pick up the pilot on HBO GO.
I’m writing because here, at the midpoint of the first season, apparently, I owe an apology to you all. A big one. I suppose I should start by apologizing to Sorkin because my own disdain for “Hollywood” and “network television” and “news” got in the way of my oft professed open-mindedness and willingness to give television (cable or otherwise) a fair chance.
But equal apologies to Daniels (who, frankly, I remember more for his early work and, for reasons I cannot explain, constantly confuse with Bridges) as well as pretty much everyone else involved in this effort. I am purely astonished by the level of acting skill, the direction, the camera work and editing… hell, I’ll be completely off in the weeds if I keep trying to include everyone. So another apology for being such a rube as to say “everyone” and imply any degree of lesser acknowledgement when, in fact, I quite literally mean EVERYONE. While I’m rather ignorant about the inner workings of it all, I know when it’s honed to scalpel’s edge and comprised of quality from “bones to blood”… and this is. This. Is.
Whether you, my reader, realize it or not, and whether or not “the industry” or “the guild” or whomever else ever “matters” in the world of television, cable, writing, or any of the other skills in play realizes it, acknowledges it, or otherwise evidences it, you have, with this show, significantly redeemed Something That Matters (to me, anyway).
I would bore you with a pass at defining and explaining that “Something”, but I’m pretty sure that the attempt would fail and manage to detract from it in the process.
Instead, I will simply say that, for the first time in more time than I should admit (I’m probably not your target demographic anymore), I actually feel as if entertainment and television SOMEWHERE ON THE PLANET is at least trying to do more than pander to the lowest common denominator, trying to educate rather than titillate, and trying to at least begin to distance itself from prostrating before Huxley as if numbing the mind is or ever can be an ethical or helpful goal worth serving to the populace…. especially as “entertainment”.
And what an enjoyable experience it is to watch story entwine with education and present foundational ideology, ethics, and information almost covertly in the process. At risk of hyperbole, I find it akin to classical drama; an almost lofty ideal and goal that manages the delicate balance between taking itself too seriously (and falling into arrogance or pedantic-ism) and not taking the subject matter or themes seriously enough (and falling into becoming a caricature of crassness and venality). I find this is a show not only with grace and skill, with expertise and talent and competency, but with actual meaning and purpose beyond the banal.
I love it. And I love every one of you involved for doing it.
I honestly do not know who Aaron Sorkin IS (and have resisted the impulse to go find out). But I know from this show that he’s no stranger to the things he’s writing about and he very likely is “someone” I’d be chagrined to be speaking about so casually and ignorantly. All the same, whomever he is, I find that, in this moment, he’s something I didn’t think to ever find in “entertainment”: A hero. Seriously; what this person is bringing to television is heroic.
I also do not “know” any of the people delivering this heroism, but as surely as I can say that I find Sorkin to be a hero, each of you are easily as much hero and likely quite more so as you do what you do in full knowledge that most of us watching will never really “know you” beyond a brief blip of white text set to music that most of us never acknowledge beyond a nod and “there’s the credits” before flipping channel.
I am sorry for that as well, even as I cannot say I will ever be or do any differently. I acknowledge you collectively and blush for the tacit casualness with which, even here and now, I counter my professed adoration by minimizing in any way all that you do. I am sorry mostly because this is my lot as well as it is yours but also because I feel so ignorant in relation to the mountain of acknowledgements and thanks that I’d rather do this than try and risk failing and somehow furthering the insult.
So, at distance, with all obvious ignorance of anything but that which any given “consumer” of entertainment “knows” about your industry beyond the visible – thank you; I genuinely wish for every possible measure of accolade and success to come to each and every one of you involved in this effort.
You’re giving the world something it has been missing for some time and I believe, feel, and think that is a noble and laudable thing.
Season 1, Episode 5, the “Coach” scene… I love you for that; you remind me that as silly and stupid and insane as it gets, at the end of the day, there isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t “chip in” to try and make it better, make it work.
That is always worth remembering and I am certain you will remind me of much more yet… so in advance of it as well as for all things given, again, thank you.