by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
What rock did these morally pure creatures crawl out from under and, more important, how do you go from innocent millipede to White House staffer without becoming soiled or disillusioned by the dirty realities of politics along the way?
Heather Havrilesky, “Will The West Wing go south?”
There are a lot of things to nitpick about The West Wing, between its heavy-handed Sorkin-isms and its penchant for too-saccharine resolutions, but the one criticism that I can’t stand is that it isn’t realistic enough. Of course it isn’t — it’s fiction. No, these aren’t how actual White House staffers would talk about issues, because how they actually talk would be totally impenetrable to the audience the show is actually made for. Tone-deaf critics would dismiss this as dumbing-down, but the alternative is a highly accurate but totally unwatchable bore. Policy wonks may lament that there’s no television truly tailored to their niche interests, but the rest of us want something, you know, entertaining. Moreover, we understand that in order to generate drama, characters in fiction may need to speak and act in ways that real people wouldn’t (hint: real people don’t only sit on one half of a dining room table or speak in iambic pentameter). Which means the hero sometimes has to be naive in their hopes and dreams — if they know they’re going to crash on the rocks, they might just call the whole adventure off, which doesn’t leave us with much of a story. Such is the case with Matt’s attempt to keep a watchful eye on Fisk. Continue reading