As far as Aaron Sorkin is concerned, women can't handle their personal lives.
And while this grandiose -- and assumed -- statement fails to include the likes of Sam Seaborn (whose relationship with a prostitute nearly jeopardized the presidency on "The West Wing") and Don Keefer (whose surly post-breakup demeanor leads to a confrontation with his boss in Episode 3 of "The Newsroom"), two men are a merely drop in a bucket defined by incompetent, overly emotional females on Sorkin's shows.
"The Newsroom" re-affirms this. The show's second episode saw Mackenzie McHale's lack of discretion over her past with Will McAvoy publicly embarrass them both (after she, an award-winning journalist, can't figure out how to use email), and the next installment sees a return of the same. As Will parades his dinner dates through the workplace in an act of revenge, Mackenzie makes a bumbling mess of herself while trying to befriend them. On top of making herself look foolish, in no other world would we see anyone execute such an emotional suicide mission. But in Sorkin's world, she does it twice.
And Mackenzie's not alone. After Maggie's pre-interview with an old flame leads to him pulling out of the show in Episode 2, she's left to be rescued by white knight Jim Harper. Jim not only takes the blame for her misstep, but literally "rescues" her from a post break-up panic attack in the next installment. Forget the fact that she leaves an important meeting to attend to her condition — we're supposed to "aw" over such a nice young man coming to the aid of an irrational, overemotional woman.
In reality, none of this washes. As a journalist who's experienced war first hand, Mackenzie would treat email like child's play and learn the importance of privacy, especially in terms of her personal life. As unfair as it is, a woman doesn't rise to power when she sends a mass email to her staff and screams after her anchor. She certainly wouldn't keep that power when her lack of professionalism becomes a bona fide character trait.
As for Maggie, the token "young, foolish girl," her lack of self-confidence may cripple her, but not as badly as her dependency on Don and Jim. To make it in news — an ever-evolving, fast-paced industry — "adorable" will only take you so far. After a few wide-eyed blunders, the last thing you'll be given is a promotion, especially after Maggie is introduced to Mackenzie as blundering girl dripping in naivety.
Naturally, this is a TV show, and like in most prime time series, incompetence will be over-romanticized to help keep things interesting. The issue here, however, is that it's women's incompetence -- women's blunders -- that fuel the romantic melodrama. Sure, the male characters on "The Newsroom" can be arrogant jerks, but from what we've seen, the majority of them are still able to do their jobs in a professional manner.
But of course, this is Aaron Sorkin's world. And without a woman defined by a man — or better yet, her inability to act rational because of them — who are you left with? The only female character Sorkin created who was smart, professional, and a bit of a bad-ass: "West Wing" press secretary C.J. Cregg. Come on, Sorkin! Why can't you write more women like that?