The West Wing first aired when I was in elementary school. It wasn’t meant to be on my radar, children were decidedly not its target audience. But growing up in French Canada and living through a referendum on independence makes your existence political and forces awareness earlier than for your peers. I knew that when I grew up, I was going to watch the West Wing and I was going to like it (please don’t judge past me, my diet of Passions and DragonBall Z was not cutting it).
Baby-me had been spot on, I enjoyed it when I first saw it…maybe 3 years ago. I’m watching it again, with an American who has never seen it–both of us astonished by how well the show has stood the test of time. The societal issues that divided people 20 years still remain today and the predictions about the the future state of affairs is eerily accurate.
Given current circumstances, I’m nostalgic for this alternate reality where all people have the gift of biting humour. Truly a world where how you speak is just as important as what you said, a universe before having a character limit. Where everyone is earnest to a degree bordering on naive, and concisely expresses ideas in short snippets in an almost Shakespearean rhythm having little semblance to regular conversation. It was like Gilmore Girls: Government Edition, running on the stale coffee that abounds in dusty offices.
Despite the lack of realism, I genuinely love this show. They’re all so noble, even their flaws don’t stop you from rooting for them. This humanization of public servants and politicians is one of the greatest strengths for the show–they’re not always good people, and that doesn’t always matter in the grand scheme of things.
Accolades are also warranted for the fictional depiction of real events, from global skirmishes threatening to boil over in mutually assured destruction to the wrangling of critical votes on a more local scale. As a Canadian, they helped me visualize some of the differences between our governmental systems and to make sense of things I read in the news.
I wonder how many people in the White House watched it as part of their training.