Sunday, August 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Loudest Voice' - Gretchen's Lawsuit Quickly Destroys Roger's Career and Reputation at Fox News in '2016'

Showtime's The Loudest Voice - Episode 1.07 "2016"

Once Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit becomes public, Roger moves into crisis mode, doing everything he can to save his career and his legacy. But even as he loses everything, his greatest achievement eclipses him - Donald Trump wins the presidency.

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 finale of Showtime's The Loudest Voice.

"2016" was written by Gabriel Sherman & Jennifer Stahl and directed by Scott Z. Burns

This series spent six episodes tracking the rise of Roger Ailes and how his leadership allowed Fox News to dominate American culture. The finale then has the entire burden of detailing his quick downfall once Gretchen Carlson comes forward with her lawsuit over sexual harassment. It's a unique decision that the creative team made. One that highlights just how pervasive this behavior was for so long and how deep the Roger Ailes mentality actually goes in our daily lives. For this entire series, Roger saw himself as being synonymous with Fox News. There would be no network without him at the helm dictating what the executives and onscreen talent could do and say. But the audience has always operated with the understanding that his influence has long outlasted his leadership. The network is still the same now as the day that he was forced out. It is still an environment riddled with controversy. A primetime anchor has literally gotten into trouble this past week for claiming that the idea of white supremacy is a hoax. It's still a place where everyone is quick to craft these wild conspiracy theories without offering any semblance of proof. Roger Ailes believed that he could survive anything simply because he didn't fathom how anyone could have gathered damning evidence against him. He saw himself as the man in power who could do whatever he wants. Everyone else has to be grateful to him for allowing them to still have a career in this business. If they ever made a move against him, he would attack and force them into signing an NDA. He didn't care who it was either. That was always the strategy when it came to dispatching of any potential scandal. People could see that Roger was a raging lunatic who was manipulating the country into believing things that weren't true. And yet, he had many enablers that allowed this behavior to continue. More women were abused because he was the leader of a profitable business. It seemingly took the recordings that Gretchen Carlson made to oust him from this role. That shouldn't be the case. Women should be believed when they come forward with complaints. Instead, this was a business that always protected Roger Ailes. He had an ally in the corporation that owned the network and at the executive levels that always responded to whatever he wanted. He even had support at home with Beth who simply cannot see how her husband has ever been inappropriate. She has become just as deranged and blind as Roger. That's a key aspect of the story especially once it's clear that she still refuses to believe it to be true. It doesn't matter that more women came forward with credible allegations or that the #MeToo movement changed an entire industry. Fox News was still able to prosper. Roger Ailes still found work too. He was always crossing the line by leading the news while also advising one of the presidential campaigns. He was helping the Trump campaign go on to victory. He was inspired and hopeful that his message would continue no matter what the outcome would be. Many people from Fox News would go on to have high-ranking positions in the administration as well. As such, this is a complicated victory for society. Yes, Roger Ailes was forced out of the company and dies less than a year later. But there are still so many people who are beholden to whatever occurs in the business he created. It's an alternate reality that is hard to break anyone free from. That's devastating. It shows how the idealism of this effort to expose him isn't enough to break the spirit of his convictions even in death. Gretchen gets her apology. She is allowed to move on with her life. However, this remains a complicated business in which the people who played key roles while Roger was leading things are still there making the crucial decisions. The enablers still have a role to play. Nothing has changed. That's a grim realization of this state of affairs. There is some reason to be hopeful though. It's just clear that the show makes the audience work for that because so much time is ultimately spent on Roger lashing out at the people who dare target him and force him to leave. His behavior can simply no longer be ignored. It can no longer be tolerated. That should shame people. It does for a moment before it's back to business as usual. That may be a depressing and bleak ending. But it's the truth nevertheless.