Monday, March 7, 2016

Currently Watching 3.7.16


Why are all these TV Politicians Murdering People?

Netflix just released the newest season on House of Cards, so naturally I'm watching...The West Wing?

A wholesome cast photo
For those of you who aren't familiar with The West Wing, it is a political drama that aired on NBC from 1999-2006. The series followed the staff of fictional president Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, as they navigated various political challenges. The show was created by Aaron Sorkin, who many know for writing HBO's The Newsroom or about three thousand Oscar-bait movies.

The West Wing is drastically different from the gritty political thrillers of modern tv, like Scandal and House of Cards: the main characters don't murder people, commit felonies, or scheme their way into office. Instead, The West Wing offers patriotism and a White House full of people who want to do good. It's more than a little cheesy, but it's also weirdly satisfying. As much as I love watching Frank Underwood's sleezy war path, sometimes House of Cards makes me feel like Toby. 


Along with the optimism, Sorkin created perhaps the perfect President for mass appeal: Bartlet is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, a fairly liberal (but never too liberal) democrat from New Hampshire who can quote the Bible, all complete with the beloved "Goofy Dad" demeanor. He's the kind of guy that will make chili for his entire staff in honor of his daughter's homecoming, but has no problem leading a war room. He's a little bit Kennedy, a little bit Clinton, and every bit Perfect. Bartlet will never exist, but Sorkin makes it easy to imagine a world in which he might. 

I'm still in the first season right now, and since I've watched the show previously, I know things get a little darker. But The West Wing never come close to touching the grimness of today's political dramas. Even Sorkin's newer show, The Newsroom is noticeably more bleak. So I have to wonder--is this kind of political optimism outdated? Is the political landscape of America so downtrodden that people are more willing to watch White House staff literally murder people who get in their way? Or is it something else? When The West Wing first aired, America was still reeling from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Obama, on the other hand, is all about Hope--in fact, Obama is eerily similar to the candidate Bartlett endorsed as his successor. 

So what gives? Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's Fox News. Maybe it's a larger Hollywood trend that has nothing to do with Politics. In any event, I'm going to be hanging out with the Bartlet Administration for the foreseeable future, basking in the wholesome, cheery glow of Aaron Sorkin's White House, and hoping The West Wing is the next late 90s show to get a reboot. (They made Fuller House, anything is possible.) 
My vote is for Charlie this time around
What's next?

-Rachel 

1 comment:

  1. I'm obsessed with House of Cards and I've never even heard of WestWing it sounds like a great show, but I'm scared that I've been corrupted by the dark soul of Frank Underwood. Can I ever be redeemed?

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