Presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms that include countless scandals, threats and political scuffles, as well as the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world. Written by
On January 24, 2014, the Obama White House announced that in the spirit of both Andrew Jackson and the television program "The West Wing," they would host a real version of the show's "Big Block of Cheese Day," in which White House officials would be available to answer questions from ordinary Americans (albeit online instead of in person, as the "cheese day" meetings were on the show). This announcement was kicked off by a video, posted on the White House's official website, that featured "West Wing" stars Bradley Whitford and Joshua Malina and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The first real Big Block of Cheese Day took place on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. On January 16, 2015, the White House announced that they would again be holding a Big Block of Cheese Day. This time, the video announcement (titled "Big Block of Cheese Day Is Back, and It's Feta Than Ever") featured White House Press secretary Josh Earnest and West Wing cast members Bradley Whitford, Joshua Malina, Mary McCormack, Dulé Hill, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, and Martin Sheen. The video described the event as "like Reddit, but without the weird stuff." The third real "Big Block of Cheese Day" took place on January 13, 2016, the day after President Obama delivered the last State of the Union address of his presidency. Various Senior White House staff, Cabinet officials, and members of Congress were available to answer public questions online at various times during the day, including such people as Vice President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, First Lady Michelle Obama, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Senator Cory Booker, and many others. See more »
Some long shots of Washington from season 1 are flipped horizontally, e.g: at one point, the Smithsonian is north of the Mall. See more »
I couldn't get into the West Wing when it began its run. The people spoke too quickly, I didn't get most of the references, and where the heck were they powerwalking to? I just didn't get it. After an episode or two, I just forgot about it.
On a recent weekend, though, I heard the pilot was being broadcast and thought I'd give it a try. Watching this show from the beginning - and being able to see episodes over again - makes all the difference. This time, I realized that I wasn't *supposed* to understand what they were referring to right out of the gate; it would be explained before the episode ended. After watching the pilot, I also realized that unlike most TV shows, The West Wing episodes are visual manifestations of great books. Both force the viewer to ask questions, challenging simple answers, refusing to provide easy, fixed-in-60-minutes situations, and providing sudden, unexpected plot twists.
As excellent as the actor's performances are, it's the writing that makes the show so good. It doesn't shy away from moral ambiguity, it rarely takes the easy way out, and it compels you to believe in your government despite all the reasons it gives you to despair of it.
Some might think that only jingoistic supernationalists enjoy the West Wing, but neither of those words describe me. I feel very comfortable questioning the decisions my government makes, and I appreciate how the West Wing has broadened my understanding of how it operates. For that reason alone, it deserves the accolades it receives. It's one of the best shows in the history of television.
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