The West Wing: the fiction and the reality

Old show reflects current issues

The cast of The West Wing. The show won 27 Emmys in its seven-season run.

Photo Courtesy Francois Pichard on Flickr

The cast of The West Wing. The show won 27 Emmys in its seven-season run.

Claire Goldman

The plotline of the first episode involves pagers. The internet is still an unexplored territory. There’s a Democratic administration in the White House. Nonetheless, The West Wing feels just as current as when it first aired in 1999.

Since it was added to Netflix, The West Wing has experienced a surge in popularity.

The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin, revolves around a group of staffers working in The West Wing of the White House, as well as President Jed Bartlet. Watching as they stumble through the challenges of running the federal government, they seem less like figures of power, and more like the personalities found in high school.

Toby pretends he doesn’t care about anything, but really cares more than anyone. Sam is a nerd who makes nerds look cool. C.J. hangs with the boys and doesn’t take no for an answer. And Leo, one of the most powerful men in Washington, spends his days chasing around the others like a mother hen.

Former star Joshua Malina created a podcast, The West Wing Weekly, to discuss the show with politicians, stars, and fans.

But it’s not just their personalities that make these people lovable. Everyone is aiming to do good for the citizens of the United States. This is where The West Wing becomes a reflection on current day politics. It is both an escape from the mania of the past months, but also a reminder of right and wrong, and the duty of the government to serve the people.

Watching The West Wing you do not forget about the Trump administration, you think about it more than ever. When C.J., the press secretary, lies to the press– not because she intended to, but because she did not know about an event that had just occurred– you can’t help but think of Sean Spicer in the Briefing Room.
These characters are not perfect, but they are human, and they help you think of the people in the real West Wing as human and whole as well.

To contact the writer, email 19clairegoldman@csdecatur.net 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons