Umair Mohsin

Is Aaron Sorkin Damaged, or Are You?

Take this ‘Newsroom’ quiz and find out!

1. “I’m the rebound, and I went to Vassar.” What can we conclude about political blogger Hallie Shea from this statement?

a) She’s so insecure that she defines herself primarily in terms of her alma mater and her minor, cliché role in Jim’s life.

b) She enjoys undercutting spontaneous romantic moments by acknowledging her limited appeal.

c) She is not a human being at all, but an incredibly adaptive alien viral infection wearing a clever “Ivy League Blogger lady” disguise.

d) “I went to Vassar” is sexual shorthand for “I have a thing for boxed wine, cable ties, and pickled vegetables,” and this makes Hallie the girl of any man’s dreams/nightmares. (Same thing, really.)

2. When Hallie’s boss tells her, “Unless you want to put on heels and fuck me for an hour, you need to stop being a little bitch,” and Hallie sulks but later calls the man a genius, what are we left to conclude?

a) Hallie does not or cannot distinguish the category “genius” from the category “male human holding a big stack of cash.”

b) Hallie may be even more disturbed than Jim Harper’s longtime crush Maggie Jordan, a fact that apparently renders her more appealing than Maggie in Jim’s eyes.

c) Blogging for a man who may or may not be an adaptive viral infection wearing a clever “wealthy investor” disguise is an experience not unlike putting on uncomfortable shoes and having half-hearted intercourse for sixty minutes.

d) “Put on heels and fuck me” is political power-player shorthand for “Get me off speaker phone, I feel self-conscious discussing this in front of that earnest stud Jim Harper,” and anyone who reads anything else into it is a shrill feminist harpy who needs to put on heels and… you know.

3. When Maggie goes to Africa, we learn that…

a) Africa is a place where small children read simplistic books about New York City, over and over and over again, probably in order to approximate the repetitive tedium of watching The Newsroom, which they long for because they don’t have premium cable at their orphanages.

b) Africa is a place where bad men speak way too many languages, so many that they can’t understand each other, so they end up getting mad and shooting their guns at each other in the dark and it’s sad, at least until you fly back home and get your vanilla latté exactly the way you like it again.

c) Fraidy-cat blonde girls shouldn’t go abroad, because they’ll only get someone killed by feeling too many feelings and then freezing up when the bullets start to fly.

d) When white girls experience trauma, they lop their hair off with sewing sheers, just like Julia Ormond did in that movie when she wanted Brad Pitt so badly (even though he was her brother-in-law) because he was cocksure and arrogant and women can’t resist that for a second. It makes them bite their nails and fall over things and give themselves really bad haircuts.

4. “I believe America is on the verge of starting its own Arab Spring.” When Neal Sampat says this, he’s trying to…

a) Make us laugh. Mission accomplished!

b) Give us a reason to feel idealistic and hopeful just long enough for Neal and Sloan and Will to blast that hope out of the water with their retroactive knee-jerk scorn for anything created by earnest human beings with gripes who aren’t on the payroll of some major corporate conglomerate, and therefore don’t matter.

c) Underscore his role as the self-important mouthpiece of social media who’s still way better than those mealy-mouthed dummies on social media because he sees right through the Twitter people and the grassroots movements and any of that primitive hippie stuff that doesn’t involve really good medicinal pot.

d) Foreshadow the fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement could’ve been big, really big, if someone with some balls had stood up and said, “This movement needs a leader and a clear message or all of this effort will be for naught!” Instead, a stuck-up snot who teaches college tried to lead without really leading, which is typical of how overeducated white women bungle almost everything.

5. What does MacKenzie, the busy and important news producer of News Night With Will McAvoy, want more than anything else in the whole wide world?

a) She wants to know what a one-year-old voicemail from a completely stoned Will McAvoy says, because she’s an idealistic, hard-working, intelligent woman who just wants to be loved by a vainglorious, escapist shell of a human who’s on TV every night.

b) She wants to embarrass herself in front of her entire staff by yelling and giggling and acting like a lovestruck preteen as often as possible.

c) She wants to rip off her clever Busy and Important News Producer disguise and infect the entire population of New York with her alien virus, which will make them all hum Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” softly while marching into the East River like lemmings. (That’s a myth about lemmings, by the way. They don’t really drown themselves like that. But alien viral infections are definitely totally real.)

d) She wants to rip off her silky blouse and have her way with Aaron Sorkin, but she’s not as cute as she thinks she is, so instead she’ll have to settle for his inferior but still irresistible doppleganger, Will McAvoy, who’s on TV every night and therefore matters at least a fraction as much as Aaron Sorkin does.

6. Financial analyst Sloan Sabbith allows the guy she’s dating to take nude photos of her (that he subsequently posts online) because she…

a) Is looking for an opportunity to punch a man in the face the way so many of her female colleagues have done so many times before.

b) Is just a vulnerable, flawed human being just like the other vulnerable, flawed human beings on The Newsroom, all of whom happen to be female.

c) Loves the male gaze more than she loves using her very logical, mathematical, super-powered brain, which is yet again undone by her sad womanly habit of feeling feelings (which may or may not be an alien plot against human men).

d) Is fun to look at and imagine with her clothes off, but after a while the imagining isn’t enough because heroic men who can see through journalists and politicians and almost everyone else (to the point where they’re practically omniscient) still can’t see through clothing, so why not write something demeaning about Sloan getting naked, and then also make her say some stuff about getting naked and being demeaned, which helps make the imagining easier.

7. When Will McAvoy says, “I’m not smug, I’m having a crisis of confidence,” that tells us that…

a) Will is so smug that he thinks his crises of confidence don’t stink.

b) Will sometimes likes to act like a feelings feeler in the company of attractive women (either before or after he is dismissive as a courtesy).

c) True confidence is best reflected in honest admissions of vulnerability by men, in violent outbursts by women, and in clever character disguises by alien viruses.

d) Will deserves all of the love and acceptance that the universe has to offer but instead people make entire websites about how much they hate him, which hurts his feelings even though feelings are stupid and Aaron — I mean Will — knows that those people are idiots who don’t deserve either the courtesy of dismissiveness or the luxury of smoking dope and playing Radiohead at a very high volume in a penthouse apartment.

8. Operation Genoa is important because…

a) It offers The Newsroom’s second season the illusion of forward motion beyond a jumble of love triangles punctuated by the occasional spitty outburst.

b) By mimicking the deposition/flashback structure of the Oscar-nominated, Sorkin-scripted film The Social Network, we are reminded that awkwardness and rapid-fire banter did work well in at least one other dramatic context.

c) By repeating the same missteps and bungled details of News Night’s Genoa investigation over and over again, The Newsroom guides us into a restful meditative state which might render us defenseless against the impending alien invasion.

d) The deposition scenes offer Will McAvoy and the show’s other soulful geniuses multiple excuses to spew forth fascinating historical tidbits, enlightening parables, and poignant anecdotes, each of which, with four lawyers in the room, are costing the company upwards of $40 a minute. But it’s totally worth it.

Answer Key:

If you answered mostly “a”s: You have a good head on your shoulders; therefore, you probably don’t watch The Newsroom all that often, but at least it doesn’t make you feel quite as queasy as it did last season, maybe because its characters only get self-righteous and hysterical once per episode instead of once every few minutes. Still, if you wanted to hear people talk in circles about the same thing over and over again, you’d go back to that institution upstate where you learned to tell those voices in your head to stop being a little bitch.

If you answered mostly “b”s: You’re really smart, but you’re a woman, which is really too bad, because it makes you jittery and shallow and prone to punching super-awesome guys (who have a bad rap for no reason!) in the stomach, for no reason. You’re sexy when you’re really mad, and you’re super cute when you insult yourself, but you know when you’re really, really not sexy? When you talk all the time about feelings you feel, which only non-women understand are totally insignificant compared to all the no-fairness in the world.

If you answered mostly “c”s: Some people say you’re paranoid, but you know what you really are? The only fucking person in the whole goddamn world who knows exactly how no-fair everything in the whole goddamn world is right now, and you’re also the only person with the balls to say it out loud, on the air, either on live news television or on a pre-taped highly artistic and underrated series on HBO. Wait a minute. Are you Will McAvoy or Aaron Sorkin or an alien virus disguised as one of those guys? Sometimes you can’t decide, but you’re pretty sure you’re Aaron Sorkin, at least when you stop taking the drugs that the government spy disguised as a psychiatrist told you to take.

If you answered mostly “d”s: Hi, Aaron Sorkin! You’re a super-awesome hero guy who makes groundbreaking television that forces regular, mortal humans to ask themselves, “Why me no understand the talky-talk the handsome newsman say on the wall internets me got at Best Buy?” Your finest work out-parodies the best parodies of your work, which means you’re fucking brilliant. You rule and anyone who criticizes is just jealous, so there.

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