West Wing is a series created by Aaron Sorkin, god of television, who was later pushed out by conflicts with the network. The show has declined somewhat since then, though it retains a brilliant cast and some of the original writing staff.
h2. Premise and structure of the show
West Wing follows the exploits of the Bartlett administration, headed by president Josiah Bartlett (Sheen) and his chief of staff, Leo McGarry. The administration’s situation is vaguely similar to that of the Clinton administration—a democratic president following a long period of republican leadership, fighting adverse conditions in congress. However, the show is not primarily interested in promoting liberal politics (though there’s plenty of that), but rather with finding both the humanity and the higher meaning in politics, struggling to show America that the political realm can be a place of valor. This makes the show one of the best cultural interventions to date in the interest of realizing James’s “moral equivalent of war,” that is, a sense of civic virtue comparable in scope, character, and motivating power to our ancient sense of martial virtue. James regards this shift as necessary for the survival of the species as it moves towards an industrial, democratic, and global future.
h2. Art and craft of the show
h2. Characters
h3. The First Family
Josiah Bartlett—The president. Played by the wonderful Martin Sheen. Descendent of the Josiah Bartlet who signed the Declaration of Independence; Catholic on his mother’s side. Nobel prize winner in economics.
Abigail Bartlett—The first lady. Played by Stockard Channing. Southern-born, doctor. Fiesty.
Elizabeth Bartlett—Eldest daughter.
Eleanor Bartlett—Middle daughter. Medical student early in the series, researcher later on.
Zoe Bartlett—Youngest daughter. Student at Georgetown. Later…?
h3. Permanent Staff
Leo McGarry—Chief of Staff, ringmaster of the whole affair. Recovering alcoholic.
Margaret—His assitant. She needs love.
Joshua Lyman—Deputy Chief of Staff.
Donna Moss—His assistant
Toby Ziegler—Chief of Communications. Nick’s hero.
Sam Seaborne—Deputy Chief of Communications
Will Bailey—Formerly Deputy Chief of Communications, currently the Vice President’s chief of staff
Bonnie and Ginger—Communications assistants
CJ Cregg—Press secretary
Carol—Her assistant.
Mrs. Landingham—The president’s Secretary
Deborah Fiderer—The president’s secretary
Mandy Hampton—Political consultant
John Hoynes—Vice President
Bob Russel—Vice President. (Gary Cole)
h3. Occasional Staff
Lionell Tribbey—White House Counsel
Oliver Babbish—White House Counsel (Oliver Platt)
Joey Lucas—Deaf pollster (Marlee Matlin)
Lord John Marbury—Drunken, lecherous genius diplomat
h2. See also:
* The American President * Sports Night
h2. Links
* West Wing Continuity Guide * Transcripts