when i wrote my last bit about what i was watching on television, i had totally and completely forgotten i was even watching the west wing. (and by that i apparently mean, i had totally and completely forgotten about any and all tv standards i once had.) but that’s the thing about the west wing. i love it, i find it to be very enjoyable, but it sort of felt like that friend i could hang out with every day or go months without seeing, and it was always great either way. last weekend, after probably a year of watching, i finally finished the series.
to tell you the truth, i was a little shocked at how much i loved this show. largely because it’s a show about politics, my least favorite topic of them all. i don’t know that i could really tell you what it was exactly, but it sort of felt a little like you had me at rob lowe.
here’s the thing about that. nobody told me that sam seaborn wasn’t a regular throughout the entire series. so when he left, i kept expecting him to come back. until i realized his name was dropped from the beginning credits and i felt very sad, about five episodes too late, because it sort of felt like i didn’t say goodbye. which sounds ridiculous, but don’t act like you’ve never gotten attached to a tv character before.
except even after he left in season four, i was still into it. maybe because by then, i had also picked up on that josh and donna thing and was equally as fascinated as i was wanting to know what would happen. it probably took me longer than it should have to notice their dynamic, but that’s what i liked about it. no tv characters with chemistry are ever that subtle. even as it finally played out in the last season, there was no drama to it.
i think that’s the thing about the west wing in general. it all feels really low-key. sure, there were episodes that were dramatic or to-be-continued and i HAD to know what happened next, but unlike scandal––the most appropriately named show to ever air on television––it felt more realistic, like a day in the life of white house staff. scandal leaves me speechless, and incredibly grateful that fitzgerald grant is not our president. the west wing left me wanting to learn more about politics and a little sad that i’ll never actually know what it’s like to work in the west wing.
(side note: the number of overlapping actors from the west wing to scandal is hilarious. what must it feel like to be an actor who always only pretends to work at the white house? also, i was watching something the other day that was supposed to be a scene outside the oval office, and i actually said out loud, with complete confidence, “that’s not what the white house looks like.” i should know, i watch a lot of tv centered around the west wing.)
even in the final episode, everything felt like business as usual. everything carried on as it would in real life, with no storylines wrapped up or tied together. it left a lot to the imagination, and for days i kept feeling like i wanted to know what those characters were up to or what the next four years with a new president was like.
i think maybe a lot of people like resolution and that tied-up feeling because they like knowing for sure what happens next, without having to see it. when things are left untied, you don’t know what happens and even worse, you never can because it’s fictional. but i’m glad this show didn’t have a tied-up ending. the characters always felt very based-on-a-true story to me, and true stories never have endings with all the pieces in place or all the answers.