I'm a recent journalism school graduate and I'll be your recapper this season as we explore the world of journalism as seen through the eyes of Aaron Sorkin, who somehow manages to be more self-important and self-absorbed than a recent journalism school graduate.
We open on Jeff Daniels sitting in between two arguing anchorpeople with decidedly political leanings: one conservative, one liberal. Jeff Daniels stays silent and smirks bemusedly at their silly words while the camera circles around and goes in and out of focus in a way I find conspicuous and annoying but I guess is supposed to capture how it feels to be stuck in between two people arguing about politics. This happens to me at nearly every family Thanksgiving, but I manage to get through it without squinting at how bright the lights are or seeing Emily Mortimer sitting with us. Daniels isn't so lucky. He sees her in the audience, but then it turns out just to be a woman who looks like her. Either that, or Emily Mortimer found a woman in the audience wearing the same clothes as she is and looks like her and decided to play tricks on Jeff Daniels and make him think he was hallucinating. But that would just be ridiculous. Right?
Finally, the moderator asks Jeff Daniels, a.k.a. Will McAvoy, Boring Unopinionated Anchorman Extraordinaire, if he would like to add anything to this hot debate and justify however much Northwestern paid him to sit on its stage and stare at Emily Mortimer lookalikes for 45 minutes. He does not. An audience member, who identifies himself as "Steven," asks Will about his political leanings. "I consider myself a New York Jets fan, Steven," Will responds. The audience chuckles politely. I'd just like to point out that Will managed to remember the name of the random white male audience member, but, as we'll see later in the episode, can't figure out the names of his female or non-white staffers. The moderator asks Will if he traditionally refuses to state his political allegiances because he wants to be seen as a neutral news presenter. "That sounds like a good answer. I'll take it," Will says. "HA HA HA" says the audience that has apparently never seen anything actually funny before.
The moderator quotes an article accusing Will of being "the Jay Leno of news anchors." Will says he's jealous of Leno's ratings. The moderator realizes he's not going to get any more out of Will and moves on to Jenny, a sophomore who wants to know, "in one sentence or less" because blonde 20 year olds are stupid, why America is the best country in the whole wide world. "Diversity and opportunity," says Liberal Lady. "Freedom and freedom, so let's keep it that way," says Fox News Guy. "New York Jets," says Will. When pressed for a real answer: "diversity and opportunity and freedom and freedom." He looks out into the audience and sees Emily Mortimer again, now holding up a sign hastily written on her notepad that says "IT'S NOT." On the next page: "BUT IT CAN BE."