Sunday, March 15, 2009

The West Wing

Bravo has been running the TV series The West Wing, which originally ran from 1999 to 2006, I think. When it was first on, I watched a couple of seasons and then drifted away, I'm not sure why... I think because it is an intense show that requires a lot of attention from the viewers. Also, perhaps, because the horror of the Bush administration sharpened my interest in politics, and I'm more knowledgeable about it now. I was impressed with it back then and am even more impressed with it now.

For one thing, it is a great civics lesson, and the people who didn't watch it are probably the ones who needed to the most. It had a consistently liberal viewpoint, true, but in my opinion represented the Republican viewpoint well. The last season of the show, for example, was about the election for the President to succeed Jed Bartlett. It featured Jimmy Smits as the young, less experienced Hispanic candidate and the older moderate Republican Senator played by Alan Alda (Alda, by the way, did a marvelous job of acting, better in my opinion than his often over-the-top Hawkeye Pierce). Not only was it remarkably prescient about the 2008 race, the debate shown between the two was a marvel of showing the wide range of issues and the viewpoints of the parties. I'd like kids in civics classes to see it. And on issue after issue, they explained them as clearly as possible and showing the range of opinion, sometimes how impossible it is to get a consensus or a solution, as when they had a summit at Camp David to try, once more, to achieve peace in the Middle East. There were also great explanations of complicated topics. I just saw one episode that explained the census and statistical sampling, which is a topic that is heating up again with the year 2010 almost here.

All this and compelling characters and story lines as well. It's amazing the show survived for so many years and I'm so glad it did.

No comments: