In this, a presidential election year, it is highly recommended that you watch “The West Wing” – a mesmerizing inside view of exactly what happens within the White House and during presidential election campaigns. You may respond with: “But it is just a fictional television drama.” No – it is not. It is a television show that was written and produced by former White House employees and staffers, from both parties. And the consultants were former press secretaries and aides – making it the most accurate television show about the White House – ever. The credits themselves are jaw-dropping. And – there are even former presidents, White House aides, press secretaries, (from both parties), who took the time to provide insight in episodes which provided veracity and credibility to the show. It is no wonder that the show and the actors won numerous awards, Emmys, golden globes, for their work as individual actors, producers,writers, episodes, and as an ensemble as well. It is admittedly one of the stellar shows within television history. There are too many to list here – but this link lists them all: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_The_West_Wing
It begins with a newly elected president, portrayed by actor Martin Sheen, during his first year in office. His staff consists of his chief of staff, John Spencer,(Leo) whose job it is to make sure that everyone else is doing their job – and to act as a filter as to what comes to the President. The character played by Bradley Whitford (‘Josh‘), is the deputy- assistant chief-of-staff, a character who is everywhere that the Chief-of-Staff is not. There are the Communications Directors, Rob Lowe (Sam) and Richard Schiff,(Toby) whose job it is to not only write speeches, but provide the press secretary with what can or cannot be said. Then there is Allison Janney , (C.J.), who plays the role of the female press secretary, who is the voice of the administration to the press, and through her character, (with the input of former press secretaries as consultants) that you understand why it is a position which has a constant change of press secretaries. Also even staff administrative assistants such as Janel Moloney, (Donna), and special assistant to the president, Dule Hill, (Charlie), are fleshed out into full human beings – a tribute to excellent writing. And, the First Lady is portrayed as a strong woman in her own right by Stockyard Channing . It is during the first episode that one starts to wonder why anyone would even want the job – and explains why, American presidents seem to age 10 years for every year there. And eventually one might begin to decide that, not only would they not want the job, but would not want to work there in any capacity. Recently, President Barack Obama said, in response to what he would say to presidential candidates of both parties: “Make sure of why you want this.” Leaving the listener to understand that it is not about ego or power – it is indeed a tough job. The West Wing tells the stories as only people who once worked there could tell, but also shows what a well-oiled machine it is that changes the persons who run it every four to eight years, without a public hiccup.
It is also during the first episode that you become mesmerized and hooked – and begin to binge without even thinking about it. The insight into the behind the scenes of actual election campaigns is priceless.
Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman converse in the hallway in one of The West Wing ‘ s noted tracking shots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The show provides insight into the hierarchy of the offices of the U.S. Presidency – but the characters are not ‘cookie cutter’ characters. Each character is remarkably fleshed out so that you truly get to know and love, (or hate), each one of them. And it mirrors current events of the time – but does not cross the line between fiction and reality. One does wonder when – and how – anyone who works in the White House gets the time to have a life of their own – or for that matter, even sleep.
It is a show that has a mixture of mystery, intrigue, intense drama, comedic moments, sadness, exhilaration, and literally runs the gamut of every single human emotion. And a viewer seat belt is required.
As stated above – it is a presidential election year, and this show should be must-watch for those who want to see where their candidate might be headed and for one’s own personal edification. It is not a White House ‘beauty pageant‘ – it is a portrayal of life in the White House – with all of its flaws included. The office of the President – the Oval Office and the office of his staff – the west wing – never sleep.
The actors and writers should always be proud of the fact, that for one moment in television history, they were part of a shinning moment in that history and contributed to one of the brightest and best moments in television history. It should be required in high schools, and also required for political science majors in colleges.
All seven seasons are streaming live on Netflix. Would love your feedback once you watch it.