I went to Arkansas and started watching ‘The West Wing’

If you took a collective poll of fellow journalism school students around the country of what their favorite TV show is, the results may overwhelming tell you one simple answer: “The West Wing.” Just something I observed while I was in journalism school.

But I never got it. No, not that I didn’t understand why they liked the show, but rather that I literally didn’t understand the show. I’m horrible with politics. I am informed and have opinions but I don’t want that to be the thing I always think about before I go to sleep at night. Why then would I want to watch a show about it?

But then my family dragged me on a 12-hour road trip to Arkansas. I had nothing to do in the car but watch Aaron Sorkin movies and read the news. And the news has been really wacky lately. And Sorkin makes everything shiny and hopeful. And still being unemployed can really get you down sometimes. So I decided to take to Netflix and start watching “The West Wing.”

My initial thoughts were mostly, “Damn I hate 1999 television. Everything is so dark! What the hell are these people talking about?! Why is that Josh character so infuriating?” or “Wait, Martin Sheen’s hair used to be brown?!”

I don’t take kindly to drama shows. It takes me a long time to warm up to something new, or in this case old. And I really love critics of super popular things. So I obsessively started reading everything about “The West Wing” the Internet had to offer. The conclusion? It may be regarded as one of the best shows of all time, but it’s also super cheesy in terms of that kind of happiness and dedication to the people in the White House. Politics are much more than Rob Lowe walking around a TV set that resembles the West Wing offices.

And yet, I could use a little cheese right now. I could use a little walk and talk and a little Sorkin dialogue. Because I wish I can look that cool walking into work if I ever find a freaking job. And I wish I knew people that talked as fast and cool as the fake staff of the White House. And I really wish that the political agenda was as nice as President Bartlet makes it seem.

I’m almost through season one of “The West Wing,” and now I’m saying things like, “OK did no one know how to wear suits in 1999? Oh well. This thing won nine Emmys in the first season alone. I’m strong enough to say I understand barely half of what they’re talking about but I’m loving it!” and most importantly, “Josh is my spirit animal!”



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