The West Wing, Season 1

If you read my blog with any semblance of regularity, (a) please tell me because I have no idea that you exist, and (b) you probably know that I think Aaron Sorkin is a god. Actually, Aaron Sorkin is God. Even though I’m a relative newcomer to Sorkinism, my conversion was quick and fast. I devoured Sports Night and Studio 60, only to arrive at the true Sorkin mecca, which is The West Wing. Hallelujah.

Okay, done with the stupid religious metaphors. I seriously do feel like I’ve “arrived,” though, after watching the first season of this phenomenal show. I was hesitant at first, just because I felt I would relate more to the TV-centric topics of the aforementioned shows. And, admittedly, the subject matter on The West Wing is still not abundantly clear to me. There are terms and conversations that will probably go over my head, because I’m not a heavily political person, but that’s okay, because this show is simply too mesmerizing for that one hiccup to stop me. In short: Jed Bartlet for President!

Of course, I’m roughly 6 years too late in this statement, but happy to join the party. The Bartlet administration is more like a witty, efficient symphony, where Leo McGarry (John Spencer) is the conductor and Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is actually the soloist. You’ve also got the first chair instrumentalists, like Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), CJ Cregg (Allison Janney), and the man I hope to marry someday, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford). And you’ve got the rest of the beautiful symphony, Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing), Zoey Bartlet (Elisabeth Moss), Charlie Young (Dule Hill), VPOTUS (Tim Matheson), all the secretaries, Cuddy playing a prostitute, OTH’s Karen Roe playing a Type-A analyst, and so many other guest stars that my jaw dropped with every title sequence. Simply put, it’s one of the best shows ever created.

Works like this just don’t happen very often. Sorkin, a genius in his own right, took a topic that doesn’t necessarily interest everyone, including me, and made it accessible and intriguing to an intelligent audience. He also created characters that drew you in, characters that begged for your sympathy and admiration, characters that made you think about your own life and devote an hour each week to thinking about theirs. He penned dialogue that could make you laugh and cry in the span of a minute, and he accrued a cast and crew that worked seamlessly together. It’s no surprise that his co-conspirator was Thomas Schlamme, director extraordinaire, and that the man behind the music was W.G. Snuffy Walden, who has created pretty much every great TV theme song ever. But let’s go back to that cast.

I was drawn in by my love for Bradley Whitford, of course, and thought no other character could ever win my loyalty. But Lowe as Sam Seaborn exudes an effortless cool, Schiff as Ziegler makes me ache for a single cracked smile, Sheen as Bartlet brings out a patriotism I never knew I had, Spencer as McGarry makes me hope I have my same great friends when I’m his age, and Janney as Cregg gives me more confidence in my natural ability to tower over men. These people are endlessly lovable, and I cannot wait to see what happens to them in the coming seasons. Or at least the ones Sorkin was involved with, anyway.

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2 comments

  1. matthewhyde · April 22, 2011

    You’re in for a treat. There are episodes coming up that will consistantly remind you that The West Wing, at least its earlier seasons, was one of the greatest TV shows ever made. Jed Bartlet for President? Nah, Jed Bartlet for Ruler of Earth!

    • stef · April 27, 2011

      I want a T-shirt! Alas, I’m probably 10 years too late for that.

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