Olivia Munn defends portrayal of campus rape plot on 'The Newsroom'
Both Aaron Sorkin and a writer from The Newsroom have given their takes on the controversial campus rape plot from the show’s Dec. 7 episode, “Oh Shenandoah.” Now one of the stars of the show, Olivia Munn, has given her perspective while speaking with EW.
Appearing on EW Morning Live, Munn spoke about the reaction to the “Shenandoah” plot line, as well as her own take on the story.
Munn’s character, Sloan Sabbith, is in a relationship with producer Don Keefer, who in the episode is tasked with speaking to an alleged rape victim. She’s created a website where other victims at her college can tell their stories anonymously. Don criticizes the site, saying that it could potentially be used to print libelous statements about men who did not actually commit crimes.
The same night the episode aired, Newsroom writer Alena Smith tweeted that she initially protested the plotline and how it was written—then was tossed out of the writer’s room for her opinion. Sorkin responded the following day, claiming that, more than anything, he was disappointed in Smith for breaking the assumed trust that writers place in that room as a safe space for their ideas.
Munn said she believed that Smith took the wrong tactic by condemning the episode.
“It should have been more poignant and more interesting, and not about her,” Munn said.
Munn also defended how Sorkin portrayed the story, acknowledging the unflattering light in which it paints Don and the difficulty of the subject material. But she also suggested that Sorkin was attempting to show both sides of the argument in that scene, as well as the reality that some victims may face.
“…The reality is that Sorkin writes things so that they can be talked about, and so we show both sides of it,” she said. “I think it was important to show what it’s like for women to be a rape victim, want to speak out, and then have somebody come in and say, ‘Hey don’t do that. That’s going to be bad for you.’
“Sorkin wasn’t saying ‘Don’t do that,'” Munn said. “He was saying ‘This is what happens.'”