|As if this might be a surprise to anyone, I'm with Philip on this. I resisted watching "The West Wing" for four years because I could not even think of subjecting myself to one more hour of drippy, bleeding-heart welfare-liberal ideology. Bah, humbug! I said.|
But everybody who watched it---people I knew who were not liberal, and who just appreciated good writing, and provocative, challenging scripts---implored me to sit and watch. I made an excuse. I said I couldn't just pick it up in the middle. So I stubbornly refused.
Bravo-TV, an NBC-affiliated cable station, began running re-runs, in order. And the first five seasons of re-runs finished right before season 6 debuted this year. And I watched it. All of it. And I was hooked.
And it's not all liberal mush. There have been many people of principle portrayed on different ends of the political spectrum. Even John Goodman was brought in (spoiler) as President during a crisis, and he promptly kicked ass in responding to terrorist attacks against the U.S. Alan Alda, a Republican in this season's Presidential campaign, is one of the most principled men in this season's story-line. In the episode, "King Corn," while all the Democrats are scurrying about endorsing subsidized Ethanol for political purposes, some knowing full well what a boondoggle it is, Alda's character stands on the principle of limited government, and opposes the corporate welfare program. Reminded me of Goldwater going directly to the farm belt and advocating a "prompt and final termination of the farm subsidy program."
And for those who are thrilled with socially liberal positions, the show has provided some great moments, especially in opposition to the religious right (e.g., a classic dialogue between President Bartlett and Dr. Jenna Jacobs---who is a bit like conservative radio host Dr. Laura).
Does the show's welfare-liberal politics sometimes get on my nerves? Sure. Does the program project a utopia (translated literally as "no-where") insofar as it presents us with a government that might "do-good" with interventionist policies? Sure! But I try not to judge any dramatic art form by its political subtext. At that rate, I'd watch nothing---because I am opposed to the message of programs and movies that project religious right-wing positions as well. And let's face it: It's rare that we'd find any program (dramatic or news-oriented) that is perfectly in sync with "Objectivist" or "libertarian" political positions (maybe "South Park"??? Or Penn and Teller's "Bullshit"??? Or John Stossel's "Give Me a Break" segments on "20/20"?)
Still, there is enough give-and-take on "The West Wing" to keep me coming back for more. More importantly, it's a well-done, well-scripted show, projecting characters one can care about, who hold many good values, even when their articulated political positions are wrong.
(Edited by sciabarra on 3/04, 5:17am)