The awful smell of the lack of accountability runs rife in this story. The series is applaudable in its realism.
This review of Netflix’s The Journalist (2022) season 1 does not contain spoilers.
Media narratives on political corruption and the assumable cover-up are not new. Heck, you could argue that Don’t Look Up is an indictment of a flawed human system, curtailing our attempts at a fair democracy. Using taxpayers’ money means abiding by a high-quality standard in the highest office in the country. It means serving the people in the best manner possible.
Netflix series The Journalist, which is a remake of the film and based on the book, comes at a convenient junction, especially as a UK critic observing his own government. The pandemic raised plenty of nuisances in our political systems, but the microscope on leaders living up to their words, their laws, and their principles became more paramount than ever.
The Journalist follows determined experienced reporter Matsuda who uncovers a strong conflict of interest in a transaction of money, and the altering of documents by civil servants by the Japanese government. This is not a story of the Prime Minister and their assumed corrupt ways, but the cogs and the system beneath them that help support it.
It’s interesting how the Prime Minister is not the face of the story at all, but rather the ministers and the civil servants that serve the highest office. The Journalist preaches the notion of protecting oneself to maintain status, security, and finance. That’s the problem with political positions; there’s too much at stake. There’s a human behind every role that has a life outside the office, and the series does well to honor that idea. An idea that is true, and one that is easy to forget when systems are under attack, even when rightfully so.
The humanness of The Journalist is its success. It doesn’t humor or downplays the shocking nature of corrupt power. It takes one higher up to pressure one of their staff to cause stressful consequences. The awful smell of the lack of accountability runs rife in this story. The series is applaudable in its realism. It’s a grim outlook to a festering political system that shows no sign of weakening or ebbing away power. If you want anything light in The Journalist, you should expect no glimmer. It’s exactly what it wants to be.
And the cast decisively ensures that body language and expression are naturally depressive. For the power-hungry, covering up corruption that is slowly leaking to the media is not a fun task, but for journalists, it’s not fun either. Knowing that morally, something has betrayed the taxpayers, is frustrating. The Journalist expertly nails the experience of fighting against a well-oiled system but finding traces of hope to bring it down. It understands the sanctity of media reporting, and how free speech is vitally important in making those who serve us accountable.
At six episodes, The Journalist makes for a great case study into the perishable nature of political hierarchy.
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