Thursday, January 10, 2013

The West Wing

During the past few weeks when I've been low and crawled into my bed and stayed there,  I found comfort in food and The West Wing.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, The West Wing is an award-winning television drama that captures a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Oval Office. Originally aired on NBC from 1999-2006, the writing — creatively masterminded by Aaron Sorkin and others — is spectacularly entertaining and addictive.  Fascinating enough for its inside view of politics at the top, the dilemmas that permeate the storylines of show are just as compelling as the cast of characters.  President Josiah "Jed" Barlet (Martin Sheen) is at the helm of a fictional White House staff of fast-paced, quirky, smart, and compassionate political novices who struggle to do right and keep their President in office. 

There's Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (the late John Spencer) who's older and wiser and tries to reign in the overly exuberant and youthful group of Keystone Cops — first and foremost his deputy, Josh Lyman played by the dashing and adorable Bradley Whitford who, besides running to and fro to the Hill to corral errant legislators, plays a cat-and-mouse game of attraction, season after season, with his delightfully refreshing and persistent uber-assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney).  In one show, the Surgeon General’s reply to an online chat question sends the media into frenzy. Pressured to resign and refusing, she asserts, "As a doctor, I have an obligation to tell the truth. Come to think of it, as a person I have that obligation, as well." Josh says, "The truth is different if you're a GP or a member of the Stanford Faculty Club than if you're the country's chief medical practitioner." And we're led to ask ourselves, is it?

Then there's the communications arm of the posse, Toby Ziegler played with sarcasm and sadness by Richard Schiff, his deputy, Sam Seaborn — handsome and smart in that preppy, nonchalant, Ralph Lauren model way, except right out of the gate, he has a nice one-night encounter with a lovely law student — who happens to be putting herself through law school by working for an escort service.

Allison Janney embodies Press Secretary C.J.Cregg as she uses every inch of her six feet to keep up with the non-stop demands of her balancing act juggling reporters, her colleagues, and the ever-escalating avalanche of news, events, and catastrophes like this: 

As a result of his recent act of heroism at an elementary school, a police officer is to be recognized by the President during his State of the Union address. But the Press Secretary has just discovered that seventeen years ago this same officer was charged with using excessive force in a bust, allegedly breaking a teenager’s leg.  Should the Press Secretary break the story first to “get ahead of it,” even though it’s against the police officer’s wishes and will destroy this man’s present by exposing this incident in his past?

Whether it’s questioning why the White House isn't implementing the standards recently issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to lessen the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or the case of a seemingly comic group of “Cartographers for Social Equality” who actually turn out to be advocating for maps in classrooms that are not only more accurate but also, and more importantly, fair to all peoples — The West Wing is filled with gems for debate.  

Even the characters voice their concern about all the “ethically gray areas” they’re faced with day in and night out.  Whether or not you agree with the show, The West Wing will get you (and your kids) thinking and talking about the complexities of government, politics, and the often-unfortunate reality we live in. (Some stories are eerily prescient of things that came to pass in our real-life politics.)

If you haven’t seen the seven seasons of this superb show, there's hope.  Someone could gift you the complete boxed set of all 154 episodes  the way my kids did for me one Mother's Day and the way I just did for my nephew's Christmas present  or you can catch it on Netflix...cause this is one series that deserves to be watched.  Over and over  the way I just did when I needed the comfort of the chaos in other people's lives.  

1 comment:

  1. Ross is watching the entire seriew again now too. It is proabaly his favorite of all time. Therese