Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for the West Wing

*happy sigh* The West Wing.

This is and will likely always be my absolute favorite show that ever aired on television. A few have come close, but nothing else has ever had that perfect combination of wit, drama, intellect, and warm-fuzzies. No one writes a show like Aaron Sorkin can, and even he hasn't written anything else like this one.

I didn't watch The West Wing when it originally aired. I was a bit too young in 1999 to appreciate it. But I started watching Studio 60 in 2006, and I fell in love with the fast pace, pithy dialogue and wonderfully complex characters. When my mom told me it was written by the guy who'd written The West Wing, I decided I had to give that a shot.

Needless to say, I loved it.

I could write a litany on this show. In fact, I did write several papers on it in college. I loved being a television major... though one of those papers was for a religion class. It was on how The West Wing was an allegory for the Bible. My professor said he'd never had anyone take on the topic quite like that before.

It was also The West Wing that first got me interested in (and aware of) politics. I followed the 2008 presidential election like it was my job (which it kind of was, since I was working at a TV news station, but it was local news so that's not really the point). I had a map that I colored in on election night. I tracked every story, watched every debate, and inundated (badgered) my friends with news articles about the candidates everyday in an effort to get them to vote on Election Day.

But I also gained a lot of respect for government. I know (really, I do) that The West Wing doesn't always accurately reflect government. I know that there's a lot of corruption and that the US government has many, many problems. But I also believe (perhaps naively) that most politicians really are acting with the country's best interests at heart, even if we don't always agree on that. And I believe that changes to the system are made by those who show up, so I have respect for the people who do. I could never do it, but I do my part when I can. I'm a big proponent of, "No matter who you vote for, make sure you vote." I've voted in every election since I turned 18 (except the primaries because NJ is a closed election, and I don't want to declare a political party), and I voted absentee for most of them. It bothers me a lot when people don't vote. Especially women, since we had to fight so hard just to have the right.

I think I'll stop here ("But you didn't mention the directing!" the little voice in my head shouts. "Or that Rob Lowe is shirtless in the first episode! Or all the other actors and actresses who are so amazing!"). Seriously, though, if you have some free time, you should check out this show. I watched all seven season in about twelve weeks, and while I know that most people don't have the time to just sit and watch that I did at that point in my life, it's still amazing and worth whatever time you can give it. It doesn't even matter what your politics are (the characters on the show are Democrats, by the way). I think you can appreciate the underlying message even if you don't agree with all their decisions.

I'll leave you with just a few of my favorite quotes (alright, I just found random quotes... they're all my favorite):

  • Josh: 68% of people think foreign aid is too high, 59% think it should be cut.
    Will: You like that stat?
    Josh: I do.
    Will: Why?
    Josh: Because 9% think it's too high, and shouldn't be cut! 9% of respondents could not fully get their arms around the question. There should be another box you can check for, "I have utterly no idea what you're talking about. Please, God, don't ask for my input."
  • President Bartlet: The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.
  • Man: Uh, Miss Moss? Are you aware that studies clearly show the word 'north' leaves the impression that this state is cold, snowy and flat, significantly depressing tourism and business startup.
    Donna: With due respect, sir, your average temperature is 7 degrees. Your average snowfall: 42 inches, and a name change isn't going to take care of that.
    Woman: We enjoy roughly the same climate as South Dakota. We took in 73.7 million in tourism revenue last year. They took in 1.2 billion. They have the word 'south'.
    Donna: Also Mount Rushmore.
  • Donna: A lot of them, their judges spoke at their sentencing about the harshness of what they had to impose.... Scrutinize away. You tell me? Do we toss out Daisy Aimes, mother of three... had a boyfriend who stored a kilo in her closet. She's done eight years and is facing eleven more. That's longer than rapists and child molesters get.... I don't see a list anymore. These are people.
  • Josh: Ten words: "I will make America's defenses the strongest in the history of the world."
    Leo: "In the history of the world?" When we say that, are we comparing ourselves to the Visigoths, adjusted for inflation?


  1. I've never watched The West Wing. It's one of those shows I've heard loads about, but never actually seen!

  2. One of my all-time favorite shows! I watched them every day when I was at home with my first baby, some days even played two episodes. My first WiP was inspired by this show (it now resides in a box) :) I miss that show!