The West Wing. Arguably the best show on television in history – and it was on network! Eat your heart out, HBO. I feel like it’s shows like The West Wing that really started the major cable networks in their quests for great programming (HBO, Showtime, AMC…I don’t think any of them had serious contenders when TWW started back in 1999…).
Recently I talked to someone about the draw of The West Wing. This friend is about to watch it for the first time but warned me that she might not be so “vocal” about her thoughts after watching. That comment made me think about just what it is about this show that sets it apart for me…
In my dialogue on The Wire, one of the other fans mentioned the dichotomy between The Wire and The West Wing – pessimism vs. optimism, hard knocks vs. ivy league, the least of these vs. the world power players. Both shows, however, show a slice of life with realism laced with humor and respect. I’m sure there are other shows out there that do this – I’ve never seen some of those people call great (The Sopranos…um…I’m sure there are others that I just can’t think of now) – however, I know at least a little something about DC and Baltimore. For one, I’ve been to these cities; several times. I know people from there and who live there now. Perhaps most appealing to me, though, is that I consider both of them to be Southern cities to the core, and The West Wing and The Wire both live up to that idea for me.
But I digress…back to The West Wing. During it’s original run, I caught a few episodes, but for the most part I don’t think I owned a TV during this time (ah, college). Back in those days, I was still scheduling “study groups” in the library on Wednesday nights in order to have a viewing room reserved for Dawson’s Creek and Felicity. The next time I watched (I think in 2009?), a friend loaned me the seasons and I think I watched all seven in about two months. Now I’m watching again (I got the set for Christmas! Woohoo! 2010’s red wagon!) and trying to take it slow…
There are a couple of things that have already stood out for me this time around. Back when I watched in ’09, I latched on to the person that every girl I know latches on to: Joshua Lyman. Man oh man. Man oh MAN. I had an activities adviser in college that said I should marry someone I could argue with (yeah, this adviser and I were close enough for that not to be outside of the scope of conversation) and can I just say that as far as fictional crushes go, Joshua Lyman fits that bill. Man oh MAN. As a JMC major and all-around media nerd, I also latched on to CJ Cregg’s wit and poise. Also, Allison Janney is just a fantastic actress and I love her in everything (in fact, remind me to talk to you about the Mandy Moore flick How to Deal later). This time around, I can’t get over the quality of writing for Toby’s character, nor the bright optimism of Sam Seaborn. What a perfect team!
To all The West Wing fans – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this amazing show! Season pages will be up soon…my comments will likely come later…as always, beware spoilers if you haven’t watched and are planning to.
If you read these season-specific pages and you haven’t watched the show, but intend to, be forewarned there are spoilers. Many, many spoilers.