I was so excited

7 04 2013

No, I didn’t get into the High School of Performing Arts (tho’ back in the day I loved loved loved me some Fame): I was happy that Netflix started streaming the The West Wing.

I watched all of the early episodes, missed most of the mid-run shows (blame Canada!), then picked it back up again in the last season and a-half. Now I could watch them all!

Except. . . I didn’t.

Yeah, I dipped in here and there, but wet toes were enough; I felt no need to dive in.

Then some time later, bored with re-watching shows I’d re-watched already, I though, What the hell, and waded back in.

(Here endeth the water metaphors.)

And then I realized, upon watching some and re-watching other episodes, why I hesitated: I remember liking The West Wing, but, really, I both like and loath this show. The Sorkinisms are irritating (tho’ those are toned down considerably after the first season), some episodes are filled with enough cheese to make a vegan weep, and lawdy are some of those storyline stinkers (Zoe’s kidnapping, among others, and early-season handling of Bartlett’s MS). And, shit, I think they just get so much wrong.

But this is also a show that takes politics—the whole of politics—seriously. No one is wholly good (and only rarely are characters wholly bad), people on “our” side can be pricks and those on the “other” side can be principled, and amorality and morality fought over the course of the show’s run.

There’s more to say, but I’ll end with the observation that I wouldn’t have liked it much at all had I not liked the main characters, especially CJ and Toby. I’d like to be as tall and competent as CJ, and Toby, well, I just liked Toby.

Nice to see someone so dour do so well in the world.

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9 responses

8 04 2013
8 04 2013
8 04 2013
BJ

If you like Sorkin’s handling of politics in The West Wing, you should try “The Newsroom”, an HBO series he wrote and produced. Same fast pace, similar handling of politics, and not nearly the level of network censorship. It’s Sorkin at (I believe) his finest.

8 04 2013
Mo

I rewatch at least part of West Wing every year, in fact, I’m about halfway through season 2 now. Since it’s on Netflix it’s even easier. I love it (obviously) and there are so many stories/themes that are so relevant for today. Re-watching the last season is interesting because the presidential race reminds me of when Obama first ran.

9 04 2013
dmfant

Newsroom=dreck

9 04 2013
absurdbeats

@BJ: Actually, I’ve become less enamored with Sorkin over time. I remember loving Sports Night when it first came out, but when I tried rewatching it on Netflix, it was just, I dunno, too mannered. Still, the characters on that show and on West Wing were compellilng.

And, while I havent, pace dmf, seen Newsroom, there was nothing about any of the reviews I read which made me want to watch it.

@Mo: Yeah, those Santos parallels are a bit eerie, aren’t they? Of course, Arnie Vinick was a far more decent man and politician than either McCain or Romney.

One thing I do like about watching it on West Wing is that I can just zip through the bits that annoy me, and avoid altogether those episodes which I think are ridiculous. And yeah, there really is a lot of good stuff over those seven seasons.

10 04 2013
geekhiker

Maybe you’ve posted about this already (I’m working backwards, chronologically, so forgive me if you have), but did you happen to watch “House of Cards”? (Although that storyline rang false as well, as apparently Kevin Spacy worked in a D.C. that actually got things done.)

21 04 2013
Ms Follysantidote

Try watching “Borgen.” I just finished the first series and loved that it was about the interplay between politics, media and people’s everyday lives — though I did shout at the screen a couple of times “Just get a housekeeper!” when the female prime minister was agonising over balancing being the PM and keeping her home life going…

[yes I am still alive and reading your blog — just having my own struggle between working, family and keeping up with everything else]

21 04 2013
absurdbeats

Ms Folly! I was just thinking about you and yours, and jabbing at myself to drop you a line! All is well, I hope?

I’ll check out “Borgen”, if it’s even available in the States. What about the series, “Top of the Lake”, set in NZ—d’you like procedurals?

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