TV Show Tuesday: The West Wing

For all you history buffs out there, I encourage you to watch The West Wing, a show about fictional president, Josiah Bartlet, and his progression from Governor of New Hampshire to President of the United States. My family has been rewatching the whole series these past few months and have fallen in love with it all over again.

The Bartlet administration has several witty, vibrant, and strategic staff members. My personal favorite would have to be Joshua Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff. Josh thinks through what he does diligently and works well with other people. It’s my fantasy to work in the White House and marry someone like Josh. The other character that is in my top two list is Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director. Sam writes many of the President’s addresses and advises the President on certain issues. Sam writes many of his pieces “like a warrior.” He won’t give up until every thought is poetically expressed. Mrs. Whitlock would definitely approve! CJ Craig, White House Press Secretary, is a very sharp woman who knows how to deal with reporters. The White House press core is not an easy group to handle. CJ is savvy, knows how much to say, and how to address issues facing the nation. Toby Ziegler, Communications Director, is somewhat gruff and stubborn, yet sweet in a weird kind of way. He likes to do everything to the best of his ability and does it correctly every time. I can’t forget about Leo McGarry, the President’s Chief of Staff. Leo works well with the President, knows how to do his job, and runs the operation smoothly. All of these men and women work effectively together and know how to respect each others’ opinions. 

I didn’t expect to learn lessons in the Bible, Latin, and U.S government from a Netflix TV show, yet President Bartlet is a very traditional, well mannered, Catholic President, who goes to Mass every Sunday and frequently quotes the Bible. In a Season 3 episode, Josiah and the First Lady, Abby Bartlett, discuss a line from the book of Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her. I had never heard that quote before; and, when we read that part in the Bible, I will definitely remember this scene. The other thing that I know Mrs Demirjian would love is the fact that the President frequently speaks in Latin. When a bereft President Bartlett is in the National Cathedral following the death of his secretary, Mrs. Landigham, he prayed in Latin. I enjoyed translating for my parents. The show also deals with issues that we are familiar with today, including discrimination based on race, elections, and foreign relations. When I watch the show, I think critically about how President Bartlett deals with these issues and how our leaders in Washington deal with them today. It is very interesting exercise. 

Just this past October, the cast reunited to perform an episode of the show:!” “Hartsfield’s Landing.” All of the original cast members were there except for the deceased John Spencer, who played Leo Mcgary, and Kathryn Joosten, who played Mrs. Landingham. This special episode was created to benefit When We All Vote, an organization that helps educate the public on their right to vote.  It features appearances from Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Lin- Minuel Miranda, and other special guests who appeared on the series. The title of this episode is named after the forty-two person town in New Hampshire, Hartsfield’s Landing, and is the first in the US to vote on Election Day. “Hartsfield’s Landing” follows Jedd Bartlett as he receives several chess sets from the Chinese prime minister. President Bartlett loves chess, and he challenges Toby and Sam to a game. It was such a joy to see the cast reunite, and I hope they can do many more of these reenactments. 

The West Wing is a show that demonstrates unity in our democracy, respect for all opinions, and a love for the rights that the founding fathers created for us two hundred and thirty three years ago. When you are browsing through your Netflix feed, click on The West Wing, and grab a blanket, some ice cream, your pocket Constitution, your Latin textbook, and your Bible — and enjoy the show! 

Kate Novack ‘24, Staff Writer