Drama review for West Wing
• Know the network, the dates and the creator.
• From our article by Giles & Giles, explain the concept of prime time presidentiality. What is their point about the effect that TV and films have on our view of the presidency?
• To that end, why does TWW use such long shots and weaving tours of the White House?
• Know the key characters, President Jed Bartlet, Leo McGarry – chief of staff, Toby, Josh, Sam & CJ – the key staff, Charlie – the president’s personal assistant.
• Consider contrasting portrayals of the presidency as conveyed in the character of Jed Bartlet. In the pilot episode, where there is a confrontation with members of the Christian right, how does Bartlet enter? What is the overall portrayal of the president in this first episode?
• What’s the essential storyline of the episode A Proportional Response? How is Bartlet portrayed through most of this episode?
• What is it about Bartlet’s position in A Proportional Response that is valid? What is less defensible, less in tune with the values of the American presidency?
• Consider the end of the episode – when the President is dismissive of a potential new staff member – Charlie, and ultimately confronted by his chief of staff – Leo. What does this cumulative narrative say about the holder of the oval office?
• What does the West Wing say about the power of the presidency?
• How is the humanity of the President – and the humanity of his inner team – central to the show’s portrayal of what the presidency is about? What is said about our reliance on the collective wisdom of our leaders to make reasonable decisions?
• Include some commentary on the liberal perspective of the program – and its sense of patriotism.