If there's one thing that HBO's The Newsroom is especially good at, it's portraying journalists who aren't especially good at journalism.
Well, maybe that's not fair. The fact is, they haven't had much opportunity to engage in journalism, since every major story that's come their way has been cracked not through know-how, persistence and telephonic grunt work but through the fortuitous involvement of people with whom the fictional News Night staffers happen to already be good buddies.
Apparently, journalism is all about who you know, rather than how you go about knowing it. The most recent episode ("The Blackout, Part II: Mock Debate") took this trend to eye-rollingly ridiculous extremes by revealing that Lisa Lambert, roommate to associate producer Maggie Jordan and conflicted romantic target of producer Jim Harper, just so happened to have gone to high school with (real-life) infanticide defendant Casey Anthony. This narrowly edged out the time anchor Will McAvoy could have been the first to break the story about the Seal Team Six raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound if only he'd checked an email from his golf buddy Joe Biden.
So as the show's first season galumphs to a halt with Sunday's upcoming finale, we wonder: What other unlikely relationships with folks embedded in the big stories of the past year will the characters on The Newsroom exploit in the episodes and seasons to come? Some predictions follow.
1. July 9, 2011: South Sudan secedes from Sudan to become an independent nation. Jim's erstwhile globetrotting ways had given him the opportunity to "touch up" an early draft of South Sudan's constitution to "give it a little more zazz."
2. Fall 2011-Winter 2012: Occupy Wall Street is born. Back in college, Maggie was the star student of famed social-movements scholar Johann Occupy.
3. February 6, 2012: Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Executive producer MacKenzie McHale once served as an apprentice to the Queen's corgi wrangler.
4. February 11, 2012: Whitney Houston dies. Will's bodyguard Lonny Church was the studio drum tech during the recording of "My Love Is Your Love."
5. February 29, 2012: The Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke birth-control flap. Blogger Neal Sampat once had a meet-cute with Fluke that they ruined by constantly pointing out that it was like living in a typical rom-com. (They remain Facebook friends.)
6. March 13, 2012: The Encyclopaedia Britannica discontinues its print edition. Producer Gary Cooper comes from a long line of encyclopedia salesmen. (Also offers Will the opportunity to deliver a blistering Sorkinian editorial about the sanctity of reference books qua books.)
7. Spring-Summer 2012: Charles G. and David H. Koch become ever more financially invested in the 2012 presidential election. During an all-staff meeting, ACN news president Charlie Skinner sheepishly reveals that he can get a News Night scoop on the elusive Koch brothers, being the secret fifth Koch brother himself.
8. May 9, 2012: President Obama announces his support for same-sex marriage. Booker Kendra James has an uncle in the Secret Service who has surreptitiously whispered "Come out in favor of marriage equality... come out in favor of marriage equality..." nightly into the President's ear as he slept.
9. June 28, 2012: Chief Justice John Roberts casts the deciding vote on health care. When ACN economist Sloan Sabbith was a Girl Scout, she was the Chief Justice's Samoas connection for four years running. (Only ever Samoas, for some reason.)
10. July 4, 2012: The Large Hadron Collider discovers what may be the elusive Higgs boson. Will's therapist Dr. Jack Habib once yelled at physicist Peter Higgs for not picking up after his dog in Central Park.
11. Summer 2012: Record drought and wildfires across the United States. ACN anchor Elliot Hirsch's first press job was as an environmental affairs intern at Ranger Rick magazine.
12. August 6, 2012: The Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars. Producer Don Keefer and mohawked Curiosity Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi once accidentally picked up each other's bags at the airport, had a good laugh once they untangled the mess a couple of days later.