September 03, 2003

Guilty Pleasure

The Bravo network recently started showing the series West Wing from the beginning, and we decided to watch it. We never saw it while it originally ran, and I only had the vaguest sense of what it was all about. So thanks to PVR (the satellite version of TIVO), we’ve been taping the episodes and watching when we get a chance.

I’m enjoying the show so far. It’s well made and acted, with interesting stories and likable characters. There is definitely a liberal bias here, but it’s still entertaining. Of course, reality is mostly right out the window, and we’ve had to pause the show a few times when I went off when something particularly stupid was said (the show is about a Democrat administration), but even so they good-naturedly poke fun at them too. In one episode, a senior-staffer and his secretary have this exhange about budget surpluses and tax-breaks (not exact quotes, but close):

Secretary: “I want my money back.”
Staffer: “It’s not your money, it’s our money.”
Secretary: “What do you mean, ‘your money’?”
Staffer: “It’s in our bank account, just sitting there for us to use.”
Secretary: “So give it back and let me use it.”
Staffer: “We don’t trust you.”
Secretary: “What?”
Staffer: “If we give it back, you’ll just waste it on yourself.”
Secretary: “It’s my money. I want it.”
Staffer: “Sorry. We can’t do that.”
Secretary: “Why not?
Staffer: “We’re Democrats.”

Each episode also has at least one moment where the music swells in the backround and someone – usually the President, but not always – says something poignant and inspirational. Hey, it's television.

As written, I hate the administration policies, but I could definitely respect the President himself. The show isn’t about showing both sides of the issue-du-jour, but they occasionally bring up interesting points of view and very rarely an intelligent opposing opinion. I’ve noticed that they love to serve up as the ‘primary’ opposition argument something that can be scathingly and completely discredited in one dramatic speech. There isn’t much time for nuance, so it’s a little like Barry Bonds playing T-ball.

You can imagine the ‘guns are evil’ factoids and distortions they trot out almost every episode, and the characters are painfully earnest. You feel that the characters passionately believe in what was just said. I laugh and gleefully point out the stupidity.

My favorite part is at the start of each commercial break when they do a segment called “True Tales of the Oval Office”, and talk about some little trivia tidbit or quote about one of the Presidents. Nifty.

I’m definitely enjoying the series. It’s good entertainment, as long as one doesn’t mistake it for reality.

Posted by Ted at September 3, 2003 08:36 AM
Category: Cult Flicks

I also like West Wing but disagree with a lot of the policies (and respect Pres. Bartlett). Ainsley is my favorite character though, because she easily holds her own with those guys and makes them see some of the oddities in their beliefs.

Posted by: DFMoore at September 3, 2003 11:20 AM

i'm proud to say i've never watched a second of it.

Posted by: annika! at September 3, 2003 10:17 PM
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