The West Wing vs Newsroom….

I know even as I start writing this, that comparing these two shows is a little unfair. Mostly because I can’t help comparing one season of Newsroom to my experience of The West Wing which is seven seasons rich. So for the most part I will try and contain myself to the first seasons.

So here we go 🙂 and warning – spoilers ahead.

I watched Newsroom over the past week or so – and while I liked it – really. really liked it – I just felt it fell short of The West Wing in a few key areas.

Firstly, characterization. The West Wing characters were ACTUALLY real people. They lived and breathed through the script, and made you feel like you really could open a door in the White House and find Josh and Donna bantering over take away Chinese containers. When I watched season one for the first time, I was sick in bed and watched it in very quick succession. One thing that struck me was that the characterization didn’t falter, not once. The characters just kept growing and our experience of them kept deepening.I felt there were a few off notes in Newsroom, and that some of the characters, like Maggie, became caricatures. She is clearly a Donna-type character, but it fell a little flat. It might have been the acting – Janel Moloney is a brilliant actress and managed to capture Donna’s charming naivety without overdoing it – and I don’t think the same can be said for Alison Pill, though she was likeable. Overall, I don’t think the cast lived up to The West Wing cast. I also felt apart from the main few characters I didn’t really know the others – for example, at the end when Sloan announces her interest in Don, that was a huge surprise, and I felt no emotional connection to the relationship at all. It just felt forced. Whereas with The West Wing, I felt that every single character  was fully developed, even if they only had a few lines in an episode.

Coming back to the two main leads – while I felt like I certainly got to know their characters throughout the season, I don’t feel as though there was much character growth in terms of the relationship dynamic. At the beginning of the season they’re at odds and Will can’t forgive Mac, and we kept coming back to that again and again. It grew a bit tiresome. (To be fair, if I am limiting this criticism to West Wing’s first season, the same could be said of Josh and Mandy).

Secondly, I felt it was a bit too “preachy”. As a passionate “lefty” I am always on board with a bit of Republican-bashing (just kidding). Lots of what he said through Newsroom needed to be said, particularly about Tea Party politics. But I felt by making Will a Republican it gave Sorkin a false license to just bash away at right-wing politics, which became a bit mind-numbing. I think the dialogue lacked the crispness and complexity of The West Wing.

Thirdly, I think Sorkin was a little sluggish with some of his plot conventions. The missent email (way overblown by Emily Mortimer), the getting high-on-air, the blackout – they have been done before – and better – in The West Wing. I think this is lazy writing on Sorkin’s part.

Probably what I loved most about it was that same sense of passion that The West Wing had – we can do politics better. We can do news better. We owe it to ourselves to have intelligent and articulate debates and dialogue with smart and informed people.

So I did like it – but couldn’t help feeling a slight nagging sense of disappointment.

I’d be interested to know what you think…

Lights, camera, action…

I often feel that, four weeks out of five, our lives run pretty smoothly. It’s busy and somewhat chaotic I grant you, but generally clothes are washed and people are fed and homework is handed in and no one is left at the side of a road (which is my dear colleague and fellow-working-mum’s standard of success for any given week).

But then we get to the fifth week. And that’s when the wheels fall off the wagon. It’s when kids get sick, and you both have super busy days and no one can take sick leave. Or worse – I get sick, and as everyone knows the Mum can NEVER get sick without the house tumbling down around everyone’s ears. Often it’s that my work load has gone into overdrive (the curse of being at the mercy of the media!) or that unexpected emergency with the kids occurs. Or it rains for days and no one does any washing or the dog literally does eat someone’s homework.

Well last week was one of those weeks. Work was manic and Souljourneyboy had reports due and Bookwork was going through a tough time and and the final straw came on my day off when I simply couldn’t face making lunches again – and so I gave everyone the day off school. Which in hindsight was exactly what we needed – we just lazed around in our PJs all day and did nothing.

Sometimes on that fifth week I wonder despairingly what on earth I am doing. Is all the mania really worth it, I wonder? I look longingly at the stay-at-home-mums and fantasize about spending hours cooking nutritious meals and calmly picking everyone up from school and chatting about their days while we have home-baked cupcakes. But then – I have been a stay-at-home Mum, and I know that’s not really the reality either. More likely everyone had a fight on the way hone and the cupcakes were confiscated as punishment.

Like I read somewhere not long ago, we always compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s stage show – so no wonder we find ourselves lacking.

I like working (most of the time 🙂 ). I like keeping my mind busy and bringing in an extra income. I like the fact that when I took Little Miss to a party today I got chatting with other Mums and we laughed about baskets of washing all over the house and forgotten school notes and the chaos of the morning drop off. I think we’re all in the same boat, really, and we need to remember that when the lights dim and we watch someone else’s show, wondering if ours looks as good.

So hang in there, Mums – we’re all doing the best we can 🙂


An ode to neighbourliness

Something wonderful happened to us a few weeks ago. We got neighbours!

I should probably explain that our house is on a large, battle axe block backing bush, in an older, established street. We only have one house actually next to us, and the people who live there are older with grown up kids – which is pretty much the same for everyone else on the street.

But then a new family moved in just over the way! With three children – a girl Little Miss’s age, a boy Picasso’s age and another boy a little bit older than Bookworm. Yes, it really couldn’t be more perfect. They all get on like a house on fire, and so far they have been for bush walks, played spotlight, built a cubby in the bush, played bikes and basketball, made a rope swing and established a kids club, and Little Miss is just loving having another girl around to play dress ups and fairies and do handstands with etc etc. Also, the Mum is just beautiful and I think will be a wonderful new friend.

Watching it all happen has really reminded me of my own childhood, growing up in a lovely community neighbourhood, where we were all at each other’s houses all afternoon playing outside or in the street. My memories of childhood are all kind of soft and golden, like a photograph taken on a late summer’s afternoon. I am so glad my kids are having that experience – I just love that when they get home they can’t wait to go exploring in the bush or play on the rope swing.

So here’s to good neighbours and great community!