Guest Review: Krista D’Amore on The West Wing

Well, my plea for guest reviews hasn’t gone completely unanswered!  My close friend Krista D’Amore, an Aaron Sorkin devotee, has taken up the mantle to pen her review of “The West Wing”.  I have long planned to write some thoughts about this, but I am halfway through Season Five, and I’m not writing anything until I complete all seven seasons.  But I’ll add a few quick nuggets at the end.

Also of note…there may be some new things cooking here at the blog.  Next week, we’ll have a part of a new series every day with another friend of mine.  And a couple other people have expressed interest in guest reviews.  The more, the merrier for sure…as much of a collaborative effort as I can make this blog, I’ll make it.

Anyway, here’s Krista…

——

This review isn’t so much of a review as it is a love profession.  But I promise this won’t all be me fawning over Aaron Sorkin…just most of it.

The first time I watched The West Wing I was 13 years old.

My 17 year old brother had to watch it for class, and because the D’Amore children have always felt about 30 years older than our actual ages, we immediately became hooked.

Actual photo, though younger. Bowl cut.

Now at age 21, it remains the best series I’ve ever seen…well, at least seasons 1-4.  We’ll get to why in a second.

Rather than delve into an endless review of the entire series, I’m instead going to give you the top three reasons I fell in love with the show.

1)    The writing:  So Aaron Sorkin is the mastermind behind this show, and if you’ve seen anything he’s ever done, there are many, many patterns between his works.  If you don’t believe me, watch this:

(I will never be as obsessed/awesome as the guy who made this)

But really, I don’t care about the repetition…in fact, I enjoy finding references to his other shows. It’s like he’s telling an inside joke or giving me a “Where’s Waldo?” book.  Anyway, the best part of Sorkin’s writing is undoubtedly his dialogue. It’s like music, and he has said that he treats it that way. The “walk-and-talks” in The West Wing are a perfect example, with conversations that resemble tennis volleys.  His understated humor and wit pervade every sentence, with some musical and pop culture references peppered in.  I don’t care that people don’t talk like this — they should.

2)    The characters:  Unsure if it is the writing or the acting, but I’ve never seen a show where I care so darn much about each character.  From the President of the United States (Martin Sheen at his finest) down to the lower assistants, I’ve seen glimpses of myself in every character.  They are incredibly human, and it means I’ll care enough to cry when one of them get shot (spoiler alert?) or laugh hysterically when the press secretary can’t give her briefing because she had a “woot canaw.”  A friend of mine once compared my boyfriend to deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman, and I took this as the highest compliment one could give (though again, I’m a little weird).  These characters are so smart that you respect and admire them, and yet are so relatable that they seem like friends.  Also, Rob Lowe is really hot.

He was 47 at the time of this photo. Um. Wow. (Editor’s note: I’ll allow it.)

3)    The substance:  I understand that television is supposed to focus on entertainment, and that is why we have celebrity dance shows and fantastic VH1 music video countdown marathons.  But sometimes, it’s really fun to actually learn something from the show you spent your hard-earned time watching. The West Wing presents many real-life political scenarios, and even when you disagree with a viewpoint or decision, it * gasp * makes you think.  It challenges you to say, “why do I agree with the president’s rant?” or “why did that make my skin crawl?” It’s important to take a few minutes to think about these things, especially during an election year. What’s more, sometimes bits and pieces of the constitution or lawmaking procedures get thrown in there too, and that always impresses the ladies.  Or, at the very least, makes you a better American citizen.

The only thing that ruins the perfection of this show is that Aaron Sorkin left after four seasons (a dispute with NBC or something), and the magical writing went with him.  Seasons 5-7 are still good, but there is a certain noticeable spark missing.

While my love for the show is a little extreme at times, The West Wing is truly a masterpiece and I highly recommend it, and I know Kevin does as well.  Thank you, Mr. Sorkin…and I’m still sad we didn’t get beers at Chuck’s when you were my commencement speaker.

Grade: A

——

Well-written, kcdamore.  I happen to agree with all of this.  As I said before, I’ve only finished the first four-and-a-half seasons of The West Wing, though I’ve finished all the Sorkin seasons, so in some respect, my show-viewing is complete.  But it’s clear to me that The West Wing is my absolute favorite television series of all-time.  I’ve never seen anything so simultaneously smart, witty and thought-provoking.  It’s just heavenly.  My favorite character’s probably a seven-way tie.  It’s as good as film-making gets in every way.  And even without Sorkin’s presence, I’m thrilled that I still have two-and-a-half seasons to go.

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