Given the recent annual celebration of my country’s release from British tyranny (a phrase which personally gives me the giggles), I felt it an appropriate time to do something I’ve been threatening to do for several weeks…Re-watch “The West Wing.”
“The West Wing,” created and in large part written by Aaron Sorkin, is an inside look at the White House and the lives of the staffer. The show debuted in 1999 and ran for seven seasons and was a loose spin-off of the movie “The American President,” also written by Sorkin (and a movie I recommend checking out).
The cast includes Martin Sheen as POTUS, John Spencer as the Chief of Staff, and the semi-regular appearance of Stockard Channing as the First Lady. But that just scratches the surface of the amazing talent embedded in this show.
While I realize that Hollywood rarely depicts reality (even in reality shows), I like to think that, for the most part, we have not only smart people running the country, but also quick people. The back-and-forth banter portrayed in “The West Wing” is amazing, fast and sometimes hard to keep up with. But when there is a good pay-off, I’m willing to work a little harder for my entertainment. I also love that just about every conversation ends with “Okay,” whether it is or not.
“The West Wing” also pioneered a device in which characters have conversations while walking through the office halls or from one meeting to another, AKA a “walk and talk” scene. While I have never worked in government, much less the White House, I have spent a number of years working the corporate world, and I know that much of the work gets done like this. If I had a dollar for every time I have gotten the answer I need by walking an executive to the car, the cafeteria, between meetings, and on one occasion, to the bathroom, I could retire comfortably.
But I think what I love most about “The West Wing” is that they took on issues of the day. And frankly, many of the issues are ones we still deal with today. The good guys win and lose as you might expect, there are times where there really is no right answer but the lesser of two bad answers, but ultimately they do as we all have to do, simply do they best they can with the options they have. And occasionally, buried among the political stories and subplots, there is a touching human interest story that can bring me to tears (see “In Excelsis Deo,” Season 1, Episode 10).
Wednesday nights, were the highlight of a good number – if not the majority – of my weeks during the show’s network run. My kids were little and Wednesday was my husband’s bowling night (yes, it felt way too 1950’s to type that), so I would pick the kids up from day care, stop for Happy Meals, get everything done and the kids ready for bed before 8 pm. And even the kids knew they could only talk during commercials, unless there was an emergency. During that one hour of the week, “emergency” was defined in my house as large fire or bleeding from the eyes. Even my husband tried to not get home before 9 pm, because he knew I would NOT catch him up during the show.
I’m sure there better, more productive things I could be doing with my time right now, but I’m not only re-watching a show I truly enjoyed, but in many ways, reliving some great memories in my own life.