Like John Fay, I used to be a fan of West Wing for its first few seasons. I have also noticed its serious decline in recent years so I’m relieved to see that NBC have finally decided to pull the plug on this increasingly preposterous series. The stubborn insistence on portraying a Democrat president for six years after the last one left office can only be explained by obtuse partisanship or inertia. Neither reflects well.
One of the things that was attractive about the earlier seasons was that there was some attempt to portray “the other side” honestly. I’m thinking of Josh’s retort to Toby’s assertion that drug companies’ pills cost four cent to make: “You know that’s not true. The second pill costs them four cents; the first pill costs them $400 million” and Emily Procter’s sympathetic Republican: Ainsley Hayes. The experience of writing good arguments and quips for that character ought to have given them a clue as to how they might have portrayed a Republican White House. If the writers and producers had any guts, they would have had Bartlett lose the first election. After all, it’s a safe bet that a significant proportion of their viewers did actually vote Republican. Or perhaps, like the makers of the L-Word (of which more anon) they fancy that their viewing audience is solidly blue.
Instead they persisted with this alternative and increasingly irrelevant universe which foreswore the option of dealing with most of the issues which animate 2004-2006 era voters including, ironically, almost all Democrat voters, most of whom are driven to the point of derangement by the actual Republican president.