How HBO Made It Look Like Critics Liked ‘The Newsroom’ (Forbes)
It’s been a long time since HBO has had a series so critically villified as The Newsroom. Though Aaron Sorkin’s show sits in the ‘comfortably mediocre’ range on rating aggregators like Metacritic, many critics have savaged the show. Yet you wouldn’t know it from the two-page ad HBO ran for the show recently, full of laudatory phrases from TV criticism’s elite. But there’s a catch:
Time’s James Poniewozik, summarizing his views on “The Newsroom” for non-subscribers, flatly declared, “I was not a fan.” Yet the ad makes it sound like he was, burbling, “The pacing is electric…captures the excitement.”
Salon’s Willa Paskin is quoted in the ad calling “The Newsroom” “captivating, riveting, rousing.” Here’s what she actually wrote: “The results are a captivating, riveting, rousing, condescending, smug, infuriating mixture, a potent potion that advertises itself as intelligence-enhancing but is actually just crazy-making.”
As the article accurately points out, movie studios have been practicing this kind of marketing deception for years — Sony went so far as to invent a completely fake critic to plant positive reviews for A Knight’s Tale. But HBO’s shows are usually so well-received that they wouldn’t need to stoop to these lows.
Hopefully the show will stick around for a few more seasons so Jeff Daniels can address the scandal himself in The Newsroom’s trademark “ripped from the headlines from two years ago” style.