10 Reasons Why You Need to Marathon The West Wing Right Now

The West Wing Cast Photo

Posted by Sage

To those of you who are considering tuning in for 1600 Penn: A) What are you THINKING? and B) No.

Instead of supporting NBC’s headlong, willing nosedive into mediocrity, log into Netflix Instant, find The West Wing, and push play on Season 1, Episode 1. You won’t regret it.

I’ve had The West Wing on my queue for quite a while. As one of the few and rabid fans of the unfairly maligned Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I knew that Aaron Sorkin’s most critically acclaimed series would fast become a favorite. Also, I have had a serious thing for Bradley Whitford and his dimples for YEARS.

I was right. I’ve marathoned Seasons 1-4 in just 2 months. True, it’s been described as “white liberal porn,” and not for nothing. But I’m white, I’m liberal, and I am EATING IT UP. And I need more people to talk about it with! So let my 10 reasons convince you, and then come and talk to me about your thoughts on C.J./Danny and the President’s secret plan to fight inflation. Thanks.


Josh Lyman Known DC Sex God

Hold on to your panties, ladies of DC: motherfuckin’ Josh Lyman is in the house.

Josh is President Bartlet’s Deputy Chief of Staff, but very much the chief of my heart. This asshole runs Washington like he’s the Fraternity President, everyone else is a freshmen, and it’s always pledge week. Everyone wants to get with him, but his heart truly belongs to his woodland nymph of an assistant/life partner, Donna Moss. (More on that later.) I am LIVING for him.

The West Wing lore has it that Josh is based on Rahm Emanuel, so, by the transitive property, I must be in love with him too.


C.J. Cregg press briefing
Before I started my marathon, my friend Julia gave this lady the best possible introduction – she told me C.J. was a Leslie Knope level of awesome. And goddamn, was she right.

C.J. Cregg (codename: The Flamingo) serves as the White House Press Secretary, and the way she handles a roomful of rowdy reporters will make you weep and then build a shrine to her. Also, she’s played by Allison Janney, who’s never done anything wrong in her LIFE.


Donna Moss Sam and his prostitute friend
Donna Moss, my precious flower.

Donna (Janel Moloney) is so badass that she leapt from recurring supporting cast to the main credits between the first and second season. As assistant to Political Sex God, Josh Lyman, she’s the most organized, compassionate, well-adjusted person in the entire White House. Donna puts other people before herself, always, which is why she sticks around supporting Josh when she’s competent enough to take her career anywhere. (I believe she does, in later seasons.) She’s basically a blond, midwestern angel with a pocketful of sass. God, everyone on this show is so sassy.

Speaking of…

4. Every other major character

Toby Ziegler you wanna tempt the wrath

Toby Ziegler says, “never write a concession speech.”

You’ve got Chief of Staff and Presidential BFF Leo McGarry (John Spencer), who is all wise and supportive (and sassy). Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), Communications Director, whose cranky exterior often cracks to reveal his love and respect for his coworkers. (And sass.) In the first four seasons, ageless sorcerer Rob Lowe plays Sam Seaborn, your brilliant and slightly naive Deputy Communications Director. (With a heavy dash of sass.) The Body Man is Charlie Young (Dúle Hill), who is closer to the President than almost anyone and activates all his fatherly instincts. (Though, of course, Charlie IS known to occasionally sass him.) Your Commander in Chief is Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen), an intellectual Democrat from New Hampshire. He’s almost perfect and you’ll want to campaign for him for the rest of your life. (P.S. He can be totally sassy sometimes.) And finally, Stockard Channing is the POTUS’s sexy, brilliant, fiesty, and (you guessed it), sassy wife, Doctor Abbey Bartlet. Rizzo herself is your First Lady. Is that a dream come true or what? Sass!

And if you DON’T like a character, don’t you fear. Wait a few episodes and Sorkin will have dropped ’em. Not written them off…just…dropped them. *coughMANDYcough* There’s something charmingly ruthless about it.

5. You’ll slow-clap for at least one piece of brilliant writing every episode

Like this one.

6. Holy shit, EVERY ACTOR EVER is on this show

Nick Offerman The West Wing

Was appearing on The West Wing required Hollywood credit, or what? In the first 4 seasons alone, I’ve come across Christian Slater, Mary Louise Parker, Elizabeth Moss, Ron Fucking Swanson, Matthew Modine, Amy Adams, a wee adorable John Gallagher Jr, Connie Britton, Corbin Bernsen, Taye Diggs, Matthew Perry, and John Goodman, just to name a few.

7. Josh and Donna, a ship we can all believe in

Josh and Donna being adorable

Look at these idiots. Gross.

Guys, I have so many feelings about Josh and Donna.

I don’t want to give too much away, because going on the journey with them is just too good. Just know that the chemistry between Janel and Brad was enough to seal the deal of a departed cast member and place Janel squarely in the A-team. Trust me. Just watch how these jerks support and save each other, time and time again, while stubbornly refusing to acknowledge their feelings. It’s sweet agony. Their lack of personal space alone could keep fanfic writers going for years.

8. The “Walk and Talk”

Look at these graceful gazelles negotiate every corridor and corner of the White House while simultaneously running the country and giving each other shit.

9. It’s wish-fulfillment

Sam Seaborn not going to let you down
I know, I know. The issues of bipartisan politics and international policy can’t be solved or even explained in 42-minute increments. And I know that there are plenty of political players who have more on their mind than serving the country and saving the world. But I’m a simple girl, and once in a while, I just want everything to turn out okay and for everyone to get along. Characters on The West Wing DO have egos and personal agendas. But when the chips are down, they set those aside and work together for the greater good. And they all love each other and it’s adorable. We should be so lucky to have people like that in charge.

10. “The Jackal.”

It’s quite simply the best two minutes of television ever. Allison Janney, ladies and gentlemen:

Go forth and marathon, my friends. Bartlet for America. Game on.

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29 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why You Need to Marathon The West Wing Right Now

  1. JuliaWM says:

    I am so effing relieved you’ve finally seen the Jackal. C.J. Cregg was my Original Leslie Knope. I decided if I could handle the bumps, scrapes and crazy questions I encountered in my day to day professional life with half the whit and aplomb that she has, I’ll do just fine. She is an EPIC character, and [gets on the soapbox] during that time period, it was FUCKING GREAT to have a lady like her on TV.

  2. deana marie kirsch says:

    This show is the standard I hold all other shows to. I am madly, desperately in love with everyone of these characters.

    I was just telling someone the other day that a day is truly successful for me when it includes a ‘walk and talk’.

    Someday I’ll have to tell you guys of my chance encounter with Bradley Whitford…he.is.perfect.

    • DEANA…TELL US ABOUT YOUR BW ENCOUNTER. I love the West Wing…There is nothing else to say. It is the number one best TV show ever produced. Josh and Donna could have carried the show on their own! Every story line was spot one. The acting, the Sorkin dialogue and even after he left..I keep watching it and never get tired of it….

      I keep hoping Bradley Whitford will end up on another hit so I can watch him again every week.. Don’t understand what is wrong with the networks…he can act the phonebook. Get him a good show and you will have a hit.

  3. deana marie kirsch says:

    Ok – It happened when I was in pre-production for Chorus Line at 42nd St. Studios. It was the second day of rehearsals and I had collected passports and financial forms from the company to make copies on the 5th floor. Fully engrossed in my task, alphabetizing the passports in my hand, (don’t judge me for my OCD), I made my way to the elevator to go back to the rehearsal room. I knew someone was also walking to the elevator from the other end of the hall but I wasn’t really paying attention. We reached the elevator at the same time and he pushed the down button. I briefly glanced up to say thank you and before I could control myself I did a triple take. He was smiling at me as I managed a stuttered ‘hi’. The elevator doors opened and we walked in. I stood at the front trying desperately to hide behind the passports and he moved to the side and did, what I can only describe as, a ‘Josh Lyman’ slide against the wall of the elevator, cocked his head to the left and watched me as I began to try to clime out of the hole I was digging by stupidly saying “I’m sorry, I don’t, this doesn’t – I don’t act like…” To which he responded, “That’s ok, it happens sometimes,” all the while enjoying my mortification. After what seems like hours, the doors finally opened and I got off the elevator. Still – even with all my crazy energy – he was so sweet.

    I saw him in Boeing Boeing two days later for my birthday and was terrified he might see me in the audience – I was in the fourth row on the aisle.

    • Thanks Deana! That was some encounter…and honestly, I would have probably done the same thing! but WHILE U WERE STAMMERING AND IN SHOCK..DID U THINK TO GET AN AUTOGRAPH????? I would love to meet him sometime. In all the coverage and stories written about him, I have NEVER SEEN ANYTHING NEGATIVE WRITTEN, EVEN WHEN HE AND JANE WERE GOING THROUGH THEIR DIVORCE. I AM SURE HE IS A WONDERFUL ROLE MODEL FOR HIS CHILDREN.

  4. I think I literally just saw every thought I’ve ever had about West Wing manifested through you. Honest to high heaven I am OBSESSED. I went through all seasons as quickly as I could, and I think I watched the last three over the course of my Christmas Break (3 1/2 weeks). And Allison Janney is quite honestly THE reason I started watching the show, so the fact that the Jackal went on your list made my LIFE.
    Thanks for being so fluffing awesome.
    And watching West Wing.

    • My friends and I have referred to her as simply, The Janney, for years. She is picture perfect in everything, but it’s so fun to watch her be so quick, competent and sexy as C.J. And those LEGS. I’m also careening through these last few seasons. I know some major plot points but getting there is so rewarding. Knowing doesn’t ruin it at all!

      Thank you for your AMAZING comment! –S

  5. Jessica M says:

    More people watching West Wing is always good! Absolutely my favorite show of all time, for all of the reasons you listed. I was SO EXCITED when this appeared on Netflix streaming- I still want to get the giant box set, but for now I can at least watch some Josh Lyman awesomness any time I want 🙂

    • I started initially with the Netflix discs, but it was just to painful to wait two days for a new one. So, having only seen 4 episodes, I dropped a very reasonable $89 on the box set. BEST DECISION EVER.–S

  6. Bless you for this post (and the Josh/Donna post). I watched the show in real time back in the day, and it’s so exciting to see new people coming to it thanks to it finally streaming on Netflix. Have you heard of “Mark Watches”? He does a daily (weekdays) blog where he watches whole runs of television shows and reviews them an episode at a time (he has a blog for books, too). He’s starting The West Wing in March, and I can’t wait to talk to people about this show again, because by the time I was on the internet regularly real-time viewership had dropped off in the post-Sorkin years and I had very few people to flail with.

    Could not agree more about Lemon Lyman. It is tragic that he is not a real person. Heck, it’s tragic that the entire Bartlet administration isn’t real. I want to get boozy with CJ, Donna, Amy and Abbey, dammit!

  7. Debora says:

    I just discovered west wing too, it is insane. II have never been so in to a show. I am so curious how the cast Ll got along. The chemistry is just so good, have you seen season 7, requiem yet? Raw emotion. I am still upset about the lack of follow up though in 7….

  8. Suze says:

    We just watched all 7 seasons in less than six weeks. Proudest achievement of my life 😉

    I am now forcing the husband to watch it again. We’re half way through season 2. (started watching in February 2013)

    Ps I love josh

    • HeadOverFeels says:

      I am SUPER close to finishing…hopefully this weekend! And then I will FINALLY be able to read Sage’s Josh and Donna post. -K

  9. Janna says:

    Just discovered your blog and I discovered West Wing in June. Ive watched the whole series once, and when I was done I couldnt bear the thought of not having them to watch anymore so I just started over. Im halfway through season 4 now. This has to be the most brilliant show ever – when it started airing on tv I was in my senior year of college and wasnt watching any tv show besides Friends with any regularity because my schedule was so hectic. When I graduated my dad ( a history teacher and huge fan of the show) begged me to watch but this was before TV on DVD and I thought I’d be too lost to pick it up at that point. I cant believe I waited as long as I did – the show is just perfect. I do plan to buy the box set so I can always have it. Josh and Donna and CJ are my faves, but I am also a big fan of Charlie. And honestly, I dont think I will ever get over them killing Mrs. Landingham. Its probably a good thing I didnt watch this in college – I was a PR major and if I had been watching, I probably would have packed my bags and headed to DC to become CJ. I know it probably isnt anyone’s fave episode but her acting in The Long Goodbye is beyond brilliant. Just the best.

    • HeadOverFeels says:

      I love everything about this comment 🙂 Thanks for reading!! You should read Sage’s post on Josh and Donna next if you haven’t already! -K

  10. Lisa says:

    Marathoning now, in S7. I think we have watched the whole thing in a month. And like commenters above me, I will probably watch again from the beginning.

    I’ve read a lot of comments other places (AV Club) where people seem to hate the post-Sorkin seasons. I bet it was hard to watch new characters and start from the ground up, like Josh Lyman did with Matt Santos, in that nothing office in New Hampshire. But by the end of S6 I was cheering! And now in S7 I am really loving the whole Jimmy Smits/Alan Alda race.

    So, so good, for all of the reasons you described!

  11. The walk-and-talk bit at 2:57 in the video above, and the one where Sam is just roaming the halls looking for a “pick-up meeting” are my two of my favorites.

  12. Leslie says:

    I am sooo glad I’m not the only one who got addicted and just couldn’t stop watching. I just finished the final episode last night, after starting about 5 weeks ago and watching 3-4 episodes every single night. I wanted to start re-watching even before I was done with Season 2, but forged ahead. Just. Couldn’t. Stop.

    This is a great post, and I am so thankful to whoever runs the @joshualyman Twitter account – it’s keeping me sane when I need a WW fix (started checking in even before I finished watching).

    Seasons 1-4 were awesome, Season 5 started off excruciating but got better, and by Season 6 we were back up and running. Season 7 rounded things off nicely, but I can’t help but wish Aaron Sorkin had written the finale. Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly adequate, but he would have sent us home with a big sigh of satisfaction, I think. Anyway, thanks for this post! Great for all us Jenny-come-lately’s!

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