Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers, I like pretty much everything he has ever written. I even like Studio 60. I admit, not a great show but I like shows about shows and Bradley Whitford is always fun to watch. The same is true for Sports Night and Newsroom but Sorkin‘s best behind the scenes show is without a doubt The West Wing.
Apparently the show originated when they had great material leftover from The American President. I mean obviously „leftover material“ doesn’t make sense but I think they realized that there are more stories to tell within the White House dealing with politics and the people involved. On the surface it sounds really boring but the characters are really compelling and you just love to watch them do their thing.
The characters are very well realized and even though there’s room to grow for them, they appear fully developed in the Pilot. Toby’s arc in the final season doesn’t fit though, but Sorkin was long gone by that time.
I’m currently in the middle of my yearly rewatch and the show is still amazing and has probably the best dialogue ever. Nearly every conversation has it’s moments and I know it’s stylized language but I wish I could talk like that in real life. I’d probably be somewhere in between Josh and Sam but every character gets great lines.
But it’s not just about the characters it’s about the storylines and the politics as well. In today’s world, it’s particularly nice to see a bunch of government officials who are trying to do good. We’re not used to that anymore. Granted, the Bartlet presidency had its fair share of disasters (the Zoey thing is happening in one of the next episodes) but there are other great two parters that elevate the storytelling. I’m binging the show and I’m astonished how high the quality of every episode is. Nearly every episode has at least one moment that I can still remember from my last rewatch… “ahh, that’s the episode where Josh does this…“. I rarely skip an episode and if I do it’s mostly because I’m not in the mood for something really depressing.
But let’s get back to the actual writing. I have no idea how Sorkin managed the workload on the show (drugs?). His name is on nearly every episode and maybe that’s one reason why the show is so consistent. You can clearly hear his voice, his values, his opinions and I have to admit, I share a lot of them or at least I find the presented arguments compelling and worth talking about. The show was sometimes panned as „The Left Wing“ and I can see where these people came from but I have no problem with how left-leaning the show is. In fact I think the show might have influenced me politically.
So If you’ve never seen The West Wing go watch it, keep two things in mind though:
- Yes, Bartlet would have been a great real president.
- Yes, the show is „old“ but isn’t it embarrassing that we’re still trying to solve the same political issues?
So, what are you waiting for. Go watch it. I fully endorse The West Wing and while you’re at it, go watch Sorkin’s movies as well. Molly’s Game was fun and who doesn’t like A Few Good Men.