The West Wing revisited

The West Wing

Rewatching Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece, “The West Wing,” has been a nostalgic journey down memory lane for me. Back when it aired on free-to-air TV, my wife and I were avid followers, captivated by the series until around the fifth season, a point coinciding with Sorkin’s departure, whether voluntary or otherwise. It felt like the show’s narrative took a dip in quality, causing us to disengage. Little did I expect that my wife would surprise me with the entire DVD set for my birthday—a thoughtful gift that rekindled my appreciation for this exceptional series.

Currently immersed three-quarters of the way through the second season, I hesitate to reveal any spoilers, but I wholeheartedly encourage anyone considering delving into the show to do so. While many laud “The Sopranos” for its groundbreaking nature, I believe “The West Wing” deserves equal acclaim.

What resonates deeply is the portrayal of American leadership—the kind of governance many yearn for, a cadre of intelligent, committed individuals who, despite their flaws, aspire to effect meaningful change guided by their principles. Although I acknowledge that such dedicated public servants likely exist within government circles, the prevailing perception often paints a picture of power-hungry figures focused on self-enrichment and preserving their authority, both here and abroad.

“The West Wing” holds a poignant place in my memory due to its association with a momentous night: September 11, 2001. That evening, amidst an episode, an ad break was interrupted by a brief news flash reporting a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Initially, it felt surreal, as if seamlessly integrated into the show’s storyline. Yet, as the episode concluded and we switched to the news, the unimaginable reality unfolded with a live broadcast from New York. I vividly recall standing before the television, bearing witness to the harrowing sight of the second plane’s impact. The surrealism swiftly dissolved into a stark realization that our world had irrevocably shifted.

In that haunting moment, “The West Wing” transformed from a mere TV series into a poignant reminder of the fragility of our existence and the abruptness with which life can change. It remains a testament to the enduring impact of art imitating life and, at times, life altering the course of art.