The West Wing On Dvd

by Michael Potemra

When the TV show The West Wing premiered in 1999, I had just ended a 12-year stint working for Republicans in the U.S. Senate; so the last thing I wanted to watch was a TV show about politics, never mind a show about politics told from an unabashed pro-Democratic perspective. So it took me a few years to get around to The West Wing; but in recent years I have come to enjoy the program. Writer Aaron Sorkin is a very talented storyteller, so his scripts were (in general) able to transcend the political preachments with which he so generously spiced them. Anyone who has a severe allergic reaction to the liberal soapbox should certainly avoid The West Wing; but the show works in a way similar to Sorkin’s earlier TV show, Sportsnight. Someone who—like me—doesn’t know or care much about sports in general can enjoy Sportsnight simply as a well-written drama about competitive people engaged in a common project. Just as Hitchcock asked his audiences to care about the fictional McGuffin in his suspense plots, Sorkin asks us to stipulate to the nobility of the quest for (in Sportsnight) a well-executed cable sportscast or (in West Wing) the enactment of a liberal White House agenda. The West Wing’s first season is now available as a DVD box set; viewers who can succeed in suspending their political disbelief will get some fun out of it.

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