the Old Executive Office Building; January 2013
There's never been a TV show that captures this energy like The West Wing. Confession: I know that everyone's obsessed with Scandal, but I hated the one episode I watched! Eliza's almost convinced me to give it another try, but Aaron Sorkin's writing wins every time no matter what. Actually, Twitter probably gave that away, too, since I follow Leo, Josh, Toby, and President Bartlet. (Leo once replied to a tweet I sent; it was the one of the best experiences of my life, right next to the time I called into the Kojo Naamdi show on NPR with a question about COPPA and got yelled at on air by one of the panelists. God, I am such a nerd!) There are so many reasons to love The West Wing - the acting and writing are consistently on point, of course, but the storylines are also incredibly inspiring. As a Vanity Fair article from last April explains,
"There’s a cultural meme or cultural suggestion that Washington is boring, that policy is boring, but it’s important stuff,” says Ezra Klein... In his view, The West Wing served an important cultural function by dramatizing “the immediacy and urgency and concern that people in this town feel about the issues they’re working on.” ...The West Wing didn’t exist in a bubble. It wasn’t ignorant of, say, the way rapacious lobbyists wield untoward influence over unprincipled politicians; it simply suggested that Washington didn’t have to work that way—if those in power were righteous and good.
One of my favorite things about the show is its exploration of women in power. From Dr. Bartlet, the president's wife, to CJ Cregg, the Press Secretary, to Donna Moss, the assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, each female character has just as much substance in the professional sphere as any of the men. (By the way, Kate did a really cool post devoted to CJ on Election Day - check it out!) I was delighted that Josh and Donna ended up together, of course, but I have to admit that I really love the character of Amy Gardner, Josh's occasional love interest and, also occasionally, his legislative sparring partner. She's intelligent, driven, and savvy, and her very human flaws make her warm and relatable. Amy considers her femininity an asset like any other and wields it with strength and tact. Here's the first time we meet her:
Can you imagine what Amy Gardner would have to say about the unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights in this day and age? Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wi) would be shaking in their boots. If she were on the Hill in 2013... well, a lot of things would be different if life were imagined and scripted by Aaron Sorkin. But here's how I'd imagine Amy might dress as she fought for women, walking and talking in the corridors of power in Washington today!