Mr. Johnny Come Lately: The West Wing

Yes. Sometimes I just prove to the world that I’m about as out of touch as you can get, from a television perspective. I just barely started watching The West Wing. I don’t know what had kept me from watching it to begin with. Maybe it was Martin Sheen, who’s the father of Charlie Sheen, who I resent for Two and a Half Men, which stayed on the air when shows I loved (like Arrested Development) were getting canceled. (That said, I’ve never watched an episode of Two and a Half Men, so maybe I shouldn’t insult it. But a sitcom has to be awfully good for me to want to put my time toward it, and I’ve never heard anything but bad for 2.5 Men.)

Guess what? The West Wing is a great show.

Season One is so far, at least. I guess there’s a reason it won Best Drama four years in a row, and was nominated for each of its seven seasons.

What makes it excellent? It shows a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into politics these days. In many ways, it’s an excellent companion piece to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which showed what went into politics in Lincoln’s days. Guess what? Things haven’t changed much. Skimming over some critiques of the show online, it appears that a fair bit of it is true to life. Idealized, yes, but representative of how things work at that level of politics. (I still take it with a grain of salt, but anytime you get Karl Rove liking a show that features a bunch of Democrats, you know there’s at least something to it. It does seem to present an awfully idealized version of liberals, and thus demonize Conservatives to some extent, but what was it going to do? Present a perfectly neutral viewpoint? That wouldn’t be realistic at all.)

So there’s the politics, but it’s more than that. The characters are well done, the plot lines are tight and interconnected well. There’s plenty of tension and humor and big plot sort of stuff that just lends itself naturally to a presidential team. Aaron Sorkin did a smash job with this show.

But why am I telling all of you this? You all probably already watched the show while it was on. But maybe you’re like me, and you didn’t. One of the things I love most about Netflix is finding a TV show that I completely missed out on, and then watching the heck out of that show for the next month or two.

Good times.

So there you have it–that Emmy-award winning show that everyone loved like a decade ago? Turns out it’s a good show. Go figure.

2 thoughts on “Mr. Johnny Come Lately: The West Wing”

  1. I’m in the middle of rewatching West Wing (I got distracted by Poirot, and I also haven’t been knitting much recently because I’ve been working on other projects, and TV watching is the thing I do when knitting.)

    Anyway, what fascinates me about the West Wing is how remarkably well it’s aged, given that it’s about politics, and given that there’s a bunch of subsequent history. I think part of it is that they were always deliberate about it being an alternate universe, and partly by focusing on larger, very common issues.

  2. Yeah–it really has aged well. Kind of depressing in some ways, actually. We’re still having the same debates today that we had more than a decade ago. Sigh.

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