Sunday, June 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Loudest Voice' - Roger Ailes Works Tirelessly to Create Fox News for Rupert Murdoch in '1995'

Showtime's The Loudest Voice - Episode 1.01 "1995"

Roger Ailes, fresh from being fired from his perch atop CNBC, joins forces with media magnate Rupert Murdoch to form Fox News, a conservative leaning cable news channel. Working feverishly to get ahead of the competition, Ailes must do the unthinkable - put an entire network on the air in the space of six months.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Showtime's The Loudest Voice.

"1995" was written by Tom McCarthy & Gabriel Sherman and directed by Kari Skogland

This is an extremely detailed-oriented premiere delving into the creation of the Fox News Channel. It's overwhelmingly told from Roger Ailes' perspective as he is the one given all the credit for the unique identity that defines the channel to this very day. He sees the opportunity for a cable outlet to appeal to the conservative movement in a way that all the other outlets are choosing to ignore. Sure, he positions it as the liberal elites controlling the media but being too dumb to understand everything that he is trying to do. And yet, he is continually questioned by his new boss - Rupert Murdoch - as well. Of course, Roger's opinion is really the only thing that ultimately matters. He was hired to do this job by Rupert. The man in charge gave him full control over the creation of this beast even though he was very engaged in the process as well. He was continually kept in the loop and summoned Roger up to his office to discuss the various problems that came up along the way. It's insightful to know that Roger got this job by negotiating his non-compete clause at NBC to only apply to existing networks. It's just as keenly observed to understand that Fox News launched in October 1996 in order to beat ABC to the punch. This arrives in a media landscape that is just starting to see the appeal of cable and the 24/7 news cycle. Roger is ahead of the curve in that respect. He understands the power that comes from catering to a specific and niche audience knowing that they will forever be loyal to them. Of course, that may show that the series itself is very cynical and is delivered with the bent that everything about this corporation really is as manufactured and fake as liberals believe it to be. Roger argues that he is being fair by setting himself up to succeed in this venture. He just does so by bringing aboard people who will be loyal to him. That is such an overwhelming quality that he values immensely. On some occasions, he is willing and able to bully people into submission. He wields his power and influence in order to get exactly what he wants. When his girlfriend Beth gets let go from her position at NBC as well during its time of transition, Roger uses it as a dagger to prove that she should have joined him at Fox when he first approached her with the offer. They will always be deemed a team even though she wants to avoid falling into that pattern and perception. Of course, she goes on quite a journey here as well based solely on the whims of Roger. He determines the entire state of this relationship. He decides if she can work for him or not. He doesn't want her there in the end - likely because of the sexual harassment he radiates throughout the workplace. But that further showcases how monstrous he can be. He deliberately leaves Beth out of the grand meeting in which he yells at everyone at 4 in the morning to do better and get in line with his vision for the news. It's played as inspiring the team to greatness. The launch goes successful in the room with everything seeming to work out in the end. And yet, it's very concerning in that it's difficult to really see Roger as an effective arbiter of rousing and motivational speeches. Here, it's all about him and his personal greatness. He has to be loved and respected no matter what. He gets the final say over every single detail no matter how gross and inappropriate it may be. Now, that's absolutely the tone the project is going for. It just feels like it only hits the surface when it comes to explaining why everyone falls in line behind Roger's vision for the future. He definitely sees something that most don't. People are blindly loyal to him. It will just be fascinating to see if that is ever truly questioned in a meaningful way that creates entertaining and compelling drama. Right now, it's mostly just impressive for Russell Crowe's towering performance as a man who embodies having the loudest voice at any given moment in time.