Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hello, my name is Wenderina, and I'm a West Wing Junkie

As I look at that title, I suddenly realize the play on words. Since the the creator of this show, Aaron Sorkin, has had his difficulties with pharmaceuticals...but what I truly mean to portray is my love of this man's incredible writing.

Lately, I've been watching several episodes of West Wing a day. This happened by chance as I did not realize what setting the DVR to tape "All episodes on this channel in any time slot" would bring me. MANY many many episodes of the West Wing. I was a devotee of this series the entire time it was on the air, and was truly sorry to see it go. I felt there could have been a continuing series with a new administration, the actors they added only served to enhance and deepen the writing. But alas, there are those pesky ratings.

Granted, most episodes were extremely idealistic and spoke of a White House that actually operated with high-minded goals, integrity, and related mostly to those of us who lean to the left. But Aaron Sorkin's greatest moments were often when he presented the opposing arguments, introduced a conservative, a dissent, a new point of view that caused the lefties like me to pause a moment and either re-commit to our original position, engage in a healthy debate, or allow ourselves to realize there was possibly more than one way to meet a challenge. Aaron Sorkin introduced memorable characters who were proclaimed Republicans (the enemy) and in no way were they moderate. They were dedicated to the ideals of that party just as the Democrats were dedicated to theirs. Sometimes they (gasp) were given positions right there in the White House. But most significantly, they were dedicated and brilliant individuals.

The most memorable for me was the introduction of a Republican lawyer who lambasted the position of the current administration on Sunday morning talk shows - a beautiful blonde woman (now seen on CSI Miami, quite the intellectual step down) who found herself offered a job as a White House counsel. Her Republican friends sat around a table and laughed at the offer, ridiculed the Democrats, and insulted the administration. Far from joining in, this woman stopped and made a grand statement:

As Aaron Sorkin concluded the series, he determined the Democrats would once again win the next election, but he also positioned the losing Republican candidate as the next Secretary of State. Very pie in the sky. Who would believe that partisan politics could take the back seat to putting the best minds to work together in politics?

This weekend I was reminded of this and the feelings Aaron Sorkin inspired in me, and how he actually made me think that there could be some positive sides to politics, that there may be some people out there who actually live to serve the country, that there might be a better way of governing than what we experience in the dirty pages of the media. I was at a friend's home and they were discussing the country's obsession and almost blind euphoric worship of the new president. They are staunch supporters of him and his position, but they fear that this worship is unhealthy. Similarly, another blog I read posted something similar and found herself hosting comments that equally attacked her position or claimed to support it, but instead were actually virulently hateful of the new administration and their positions. I prefer to think of the new administration as a potential that Aaron Sorkin was more prophetic in his writing than idealistic.

But I also caution the world to temper their hope and admiration with a dose of reality. To believe that, as we saw in West Wing, holding too tightly to a single position without healthy debate and respect for the potential good ideas that can be posed by others is detrimental. And to know and understand that this president, like those who have gone before him, may fall down as often as he soars.

In the meantime, pick up some West Wing on cable or on DVD and enjoy the extraordinary human potential, the idealist views, the honorable debate, the struggle for answers to the world's toughest problems, and the inspiring writing behind it all.

Thank you Mr. Sorkin, and your excellent writing staff.


Kate Hanley said...

I loved West Wing as well (having followed Aaron Sorokin from Sports Night) but I stopped watching when he stopped writing for the show. It just seemed to lose its spark after that.

Erin Alberty said...

Ya, I love Aaron Sorkin! GREAT humorist. Sports Night and WW both great. I have some of them memorized. Sometimes they got too melodramatic for me; I don't think he finished the scripts with enough time to be edited. A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson's War are even better, I think because of the time factor.

But the jokes are the best. Way funnier than most comedies. Love this exchange from Sports Night:

Dana: Natalie, I’m going snorkeling.
Natalie: What do you mean?
Dana: Gordon asked me to go snorkeling.
Natalie: Is he going too?
Dana: Of course he’s… You think he called me and said ‘Dana, I want you to go away from me and snorkel’?

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think it's great that Obama is making some missteps and recognizing and apologizing for them.