I was a big fan of The West Wing back in the day; for years, it was my standard comfort TV. I’ve seen it all enough times that I can recite the dialogue.
Lately, I’ve been listening to this podcast:
Josh Malina (AKA Will Bailey) and Hrishi Hirway are doing an episode-by-episode recap, with cast and crew interviews as well as the occasional politician. It’s a good show.
This morning I watched this:
These two things brought it together, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about since the start of this election season.
TWW was a very good show; it was smart and funny and worked very well as light drama. But as a piece of political culture…
TWW was basically a '90’s establishment Democrat fantasy of what they wished Clinton had actually been like. Remove the sex scandals and cronyism, replace the cheesy faux-populism with a restrained intellectual statesman.
But, as well as erasing Clinton’s most obvious flaws, the show also functioned as a heavily slanted argument in favour of the Clintonian centrist triangulation approach to politics.
The GOP were the honourable and loyal opposition, critiques of corporate corruption were brushed off with a “waddaya gonna do?”, anyone to the left of the main cast was a cartoon villain, and the right answer always lay in “pragmatic” compromise. The show included allegories for major Clintonian failings such as “don’t ask, don’t tell”, Ricky Ray Rector, Sister Soulja, NAFTA, pandering to theocracy, etc. In every case, the situation was framed so as to justify the sell-out of the left.
So…I don’t know if I really have a question or anything here. But I would be interested in hearing other folks’ take on it, either in critique or defence of the show.