It’s impossible for me to judge The Paper, MTV’s latest pseudo-documentary series, with fresh eyes, as I’m certain it’s impossible for anyone to look at it objectively when they’ve been there. I was on my high school newspaper. I was on my college newspaper. I’ve been a writer, a section editor, and a Managing Editor, so like anyone who’s been through the gauntlet of school newspapers, I get it.
I don’t know whether others will. The Paper is a fascinating series to watch for me because I know these people. I’ve worked with people just like this, seen the bitter behind-the-scenes feuds. I’ve witnessed section editors bitching about their dictatorial Editor-in-Chief behind her back, I’ve seen the toll staff relationships have and their effects on the work.
In this vein, much as I hate to admit it, The Paper gets things mostly right. The series premiere introduced four juniors all aspiring to be editor-in-chief. Amanda the Copy Editor is a ruthless pursuer of power, the kind of person who thinks she knows better than everyone else. Alex, the Sports Editor, is far more reasonable, though coming from the sports world, he is likely stuck in that wheelhouse.
Adam, the Business Manager, is the fun guy, the one who always strives to entertain, and though they pretend that he has a chance, anyone who’s worked on a school newspaper knows the Business Manager never becomes Editor-in-Chief. Well, actually, at my college, one did, and it was largely a puppet regime caused by a massive shake-up that `left the decision to a democratic vote by the staff. The final contestant was Clubs Editor Giana, dating co-worker Trevor, and she was clearly a pushover, not one to be taken seriously.
If these descriptions sound biased, it’s because they are. In high school and college, I was essentially Alex, only replace “sports” with “entertainment.” Therefore, I can only view this show through the eyes of someone who completely sympathizes with his position.
By the end of the first episode of The Paper, Amanda was chosen as the Editor-in-Chief, as the people like Amanda always are. The problem is that it would appear everyone on staff resents her and has no respect for her. I knew someone like Amanda, and this is true to life. She may think she knows best, and she may actually know best, but no one will listen to her. Already in the first episode, the staffers are conspiring against her, plotting a possible impeachment and determining that when a problem arises, they will go to Alex, who was named Managing Editor (second in command).
I’ll be fascinated to see how the rest of the show turns out, if only to see whether my own experience was accurate. If this is the case, then Amanda will eventually accept that everyone hates her and she will align herself with Alex, using a likable second fiddle to help her appease the staff and get a quality paper out. Alex will take on the lion’s share of the interpersonal relationships with the various section editors. Adam will have his implosions and explosions, frustrated by the fact that his job is relatively meaningless compared to the rest. Giana and Trevor will break up, causing seismic rifts and very uncomfortable moments for everyone on the newspaper staff. In the end, everyone will pretend that Amanda was a really great Editor-in-Chief, though they won’t actually mean it.
Or maybe that was just how things happened for me.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of MTV)