Sex and Violence: Sunday Night on HBO

Our intrepid correspondent reviews the highbrow cable channel’s trashiest offerings.

Bad news: The Newsroom


True Blood
“I hate this goddamn town,” Sheriff Andy Bellefleur mutters under his breath when Sam and a Sam replica — Luna in shapeshifter form — meet in an interrogation room.

The growing number of supernatural creatures slithering through Bon Temps is turning every normie into a freak. If someone’s not a vampire, they’re a fairy, or a wolf, or a shapeshifter, or a fire monster-seeing PTSD case, or a devil baby, or … well, you get the hint. It’s enough to make Sookie want to “dump all her fairy light,” which she attempts to do by zapping her light beam at nothing.

Jason arrives to dissuade her from returning to normalcy, instead bringing her to the fairy portal in the middle of a meadow in an effort to understand who murdered their parents. The next day, she meets a gang of fairies and clasps hands with them to uncover the truth — unfortunately for her, it’s a truth she can’t un-know. When she’s transported to that fateful night on the bridge when her parents were devoured, she actually embodies the vampire who killed them, and also grows suspicious over whether her fairy godmother Claudine orchestrated the whole thing. The vampire’s spirit later comes to a freshly showered Sookie and informs her he’s coming for her.

Over at Arlene’s house, Lafayette is enlisted by Arlene and Holly for $300 to pretend to channel the woman murdered by Terry and Patrick in Iraq. Only he actually channels her, and informs the former soldiers that one of them will have to die to lift the curse. A cowardly Patrick then hightails it out of the house.

A frail Luna unintentionally morphs into Sam at the hospital, promptly leaving the building to find the real Sam, who’s down at the police station with the sheriff and the supe-hating vigilante who shot him and Luna. The double-Sam thing gets a bit weird when Luna-Sam lies with her head in the lap of Real Sam who, in a bid to comfort her, kisses her on the forehead and magically transforms her back into Luna.

On the vampire front, the undead are visibly breaking into two factions — the mainstreamers (Eric, and possibly Bill) and the rest of them, who are quite enjoying obeying Lilith’s bloodlusting mandate. Eric, who was commanded by the ghost of Godric in the last episode to not band together with Russell and the gang proclaims his atheism to the group, with surprisingly few consequences. Meanwhile, Bill is clearly having a crisis of faith, and is alternatively swayed by both Eric and the Sanguinista crew.

Also on the vampire front, the vigilantes kidnap Jessica and goad Hoyt into shooting her. He can’t do it, though — he still loves her despite everything. And so he sics her on the vigilante standing guard and then abandons her, but not before telling her to fuck off.

And what would an episode of True Blood be without the graphic sex? Alcide’s intro into this episode is with his face between the legs of his trainer and new flame, who was abruptly introduced to the show an episode or two ago. She’s been prepping him for the packmaster challenge, for which Alcide intends to contend in. But when he discovers the packmaster challenge is to run after and devour a young track athlete, he forfeits — and then his opponent hunts the track star anyway. The pack comes to Alcide’s defense when the two men meet again in the woods, paving the way for the devilishly handsome do-gooder werewolf’s inevitable ascent to packmaster.

Best line of the episode: When Pam serves up a former classmate (and total bitch) to Tara after an altercation between the two at Fangtasia, Tara is surprised at the gift of food. “I thought you were mad,” she says to Pam, who retorts by saying she hasn’t seen her mad yet: “My mad face and my happy face are the same.”


The Newsroom
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Aaron Sorkin hates women.

Or at least that’s the sole conclusion I can draw from his representation of them on The Newsroom. All the females on the show are portrayed as either having rocks for brains or suffering from some major hormonal imbalances that render them sniveling, pouty assholes (or worse, both). Meanwhile, the men look on with disdain in their eyes for the antics those silly women get into. It’s getting old.

Last night’s episode, “Bullies,” is set within a one-hour therapy session Will gets duped into attending by the son of his regular therapist, who unbeknownst to him, had passed away, leaving his practice to his son. He goes to the therapist under the premise of not being able to sleep, but the episode ends with a diagnosis of depression, among a litany of other problems as told by the therapist.

No. Shit. Everyone on this show has got at least some major emotional problems, if not completely off-kilter brain chemistry.

A few things are revealed to be plaguing Will’s conscience throughout the episode; for one, throwing Sloan Sabbith under the bus.

He recounts to his doctor how he goaded Sloan into growing some lady-cojones by saying she never asks tough questions of her interview subjects. So, after taking a moment to poke Will’s bodyguard in the chest and giggling like a schoolgirl over how hard his pecs are, she runs off and proceeds to destroy her reputation in order to impress Will. It just so happens she speaks fluent Japanese, and is uncannily able to leech the truth from a friend at the Fukushima nuclear reactor who skips over the party line regarding the safety of the reactor, folding after Sloan persists.

She’s accused of lying by Charlie, the news division president, who insists on calling her “girl,” to which she initially fiercely objects, only to resign herself to accept the title later on. So, to right her perceived wrong, they tell her to actually lie on TV and say she mistook a Japanese seven for a four. Will tells her to do it, and she just pouts.

Meanwhile, Charlie and MacKenzie order Maggie and Jim to do some opposition research on Will to make sure they know the whereabouts of all the skeletons in his closet, as a way to brace the network for any future potential tabloid terrorism. MacKenzie is told about a deal Will had to go to Fox during the course of their turbulent relationship, which leads her to bust into his office accusing him of never really intending to marry her (and so the fact that she cheated on him isn’t so bad).

Then Will pulls an engagement ring out of his desk drawer, saying the deal with Fox was purely an attempt at leverage. MacKenzie’s left speechless, silly and obviously smitten, but little does she know that Will bought the ring when he found out about the opposition research. As if he could have predicted that she would draw the conclusion that Fox deal = I don’t really love you. (For the record, he later rips up the receipt in a vain attempt at subtle foreshadowing.)

Viewers got a slight reprieve in this episode from the Don-Maggie-Jim triangle, possibly the most obtuse angle known in the history of HBO programming. It was kept mostly at bay, except for when, in the middle of a heated argument with Sloan about her Japanese fuck-up, a distraught Don interjects with, “Am I losing Maggie?”

The problem with The Newsroom is that the only thing that threads the episodes together are these buffoons’ messy relationships with one another. Other than that, the only real opponents the series features are strawmen crafted solely for Will to smugly bat down. His shit-eating smirk is getting old. The series could realistically be set against any backdrop — a trailer park, a tattoo shop, a fucking burger joint even. That it’s set in a newsroom has little to do with the show’s true content, and unless a Sorkin-sized miracle happens, the lack of quality in that content will be the death knell of the show.


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