I own all seven seasons of West Wing, and I watch them frequently. I've gone straight through the series about five times, and I've watched specific episodes far more than that. This year, I started in August with the first episode, and finished the last season earlier this week. As relevant as ever, especially with the real-life election that West Wing completely foreshadowed, but now I stop to question why the series meant indeed so much to me.
I think back to the excitement I always felt before watching an episode. I'd rush back from class, or lunch, or a meeting, and have just enough time to watch one before heading off again. I quite literally put off papers that were due the next day to watch West Wing. But it was more than just a funny or a dramatic show, this year in particular. It was a show about hope. A show demonstrating that in this America, which we all love so dearly, the kind of government that we could only dream of is possible. A show proving that despite the inherent beaurocracy and dehumanization of "The Government," real people are placed all throughout it, making it run, and trying their very best to make our country better.
And maybe that's why I no longer feel that addiction. The day after our election, I watched the West Wing election in Season 7, in which Congressman Santos beat Senator Vinick. Santos was modeled after Pres.-Elect Obama, and Vinick after Sen. McCain. The episode following, the West Wing timeline sailed past the real-life timeline, as Pres.-Elect Santos worked on his transition, deciding whom to appoint and whom to hire. In real life, Pres-Elect Obama hired Rahm Emanuel (on whom Josh Lyman was based) to be his chief of staff. On West Wing, Pres.-Elect Santos appointed his formal rival, Sen. Vinick, to be his Secretary of State.
And so the hope has been fulfilled. After eight years of ever-darkening nighttime, daybreak has dawned on America. And with a Democratic House and Senate, combined with a Democratic president, perhaps Pres.-Elect Obama will be able to accomplish the tasks that Presidents Bartlet and Clinton never could.