I found The West Wing in a time of need. Pending college graduation, recently single, looming future, and so many feelings, the Bartlett administration took me into its arms like a de-toothed de-clawed brown bear who luvd to hug.
It was perfect. It was everything I needed. It showed me that after only ~10-15 years of post-college work, I, an aspiring writer and perhaps PR professional could be writing speeches that touched parts of you you didn’t know were there, or spinning stories like my eastern european immigrant ancestors spun blue jeans in the tenements. The government was good, the government was accessible, the government was…. me?
Oh, Aaron Sorkin, you sly dog – obviously those feelings of hope and happiness were too good to be true! The West Wing is known for a mid-series slump (after Sorkin left), but I’ve been told it picks up again right around Season 6. In any case, I only made it part of the way through the West Wing and don’t even know whether they got Zooey home safe from the Enemy.
But since then, The West Wing lay in my mind, a friend, a lover, to whom I would return at an undetermined time. Well, friends, that time has come! I’m currently slogging my way through season 4 and intend to keep on going. The West Wing was Lost, and now it is Found (thank you Netflix Instant Play!).
However, at this junction in my life, I cannot say that I recommend you, dear readers, find this show. While it is actually the best show in the world, I find myself going through heartache and my first feelings of hope have now been replaced by the hounding of inadequacy. I think they call that growing up. Anyway, here are the reasons you should and should not lose and find The West Wing. Readers and viewers, beware.
1. You will be overcome with self-loathing.
The characters on The West Wing spend their days promoting public education, fighting the bad guys, and grappling with the big issues while making Real Social Change. Plus, they’re all like, hovering around 30something-ish. While as a college student this was INSPIRING, now, as a career lady (and a happy one, at that), watching The West Wing makes me question all my life choices and whether my career in entertainment, media, and marketing really does.mean.anything. Why didn’t I go into government? Why am I not spending my days helping others? Where did I put that cheap Chardonnay again?
2. Sam Seaborn leaves part of the way through. And then you have no will to go on in television (or life).
Though not as brutal as Tube Top house favorite Game of Thrones, some of the best of the best of the BEST West Wing characters fall off the map. Obviously most crushing is Sam Seaborn played by Rob “oh you handsome devil you” Lowe. But all of the fallen soldiers, really, provide challenges for the viewer. Where did the bombshell blonde republican Ainsley Hayes go? (to CSI: Miami to kick some killer butt with Horatio). What about the delightfully dry-voiced, women’s rights campaigning Amy Gardner? (to grow some w33d and $$ on Showtime). However, word on the street is that Sam Seaborn and his mean quill-wielding skills RETURN at some point, so this bullet point was really just an opportunity to express my love for him.
3. The show deals with exactly the same issues in the late 90s/early 200s that our current administration (and SOCIETY) face in 2013. And as a liberal, you will be depressed that we’ve made almost zero progress in terms of even the conversations we’re having, and how much better life and government looks in The West Wing.
Has any politician ever said something like this in real life? And how much do we need it? Ok, political rant over. The fact that this show is actually dated will depress you.
4. The only thing Netflix will ever suggest for you again is House of Cards.
Netflix, can’t you distinguish between the fact that I want to be uplifted by a show about national politics, not depressed by one?
5. You will realize that no show will ever be as noble as The West Wing, and everything else will feel like a big waste of time.
When you watch The West Wing, you ride on the righteous coattails of Josh Lyman and his team of communicators making change. You feel like you’re reading the newspaper, or giving two fucks, and not just watching TV (which is what you are doing). So while you grapple with the self-denial that you are in fact watching television while others are running the government, your twisted little mind will not allow you to watch any other perfectly lovely show like True Blood or Criminal Minds because watching mere television feels like a waste of time – YOU, West Wing viewer, are more noble and productive than that.
In short, why should you watch The West Wing?
Let’s get real. The West Wing is an amazing show and I don’t care whether you’re deciding to take the stance that Aaron Sorkin is pretentious or not. It’s entertainment at its best and it’s beyond difficult to turn off. So go get lost, get found, get self-important, and go hang out in the world of 2000’s politics. You’ll both love and hate yourself for it, I promise.