By Janet McCabe
With its speedy and livid discussion, crackling wit, and political savvy, The West Wing grew to become appointment television for hundreds of thousands in the course of its seven-season run among 1999 and 2006. The behind-the-scenes ensemble drama approximately Washington politics premiered at the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, used to be the 1st sequence to reply to the 9-11 terrorist assaults, and concluded within the final years of the Bush management. Its subject material used to be bold and germane, its forged star-studded, its construction staff acclaimed. during this quantity, Janet McCabe explores The West Wing as either an area for political and social discourse and a strength that reshaped modern television.
McCabe starts by means of reading the sequence' broadcasting heritage, together with its scheduling within the usa and world wide, and the way the convey defines channels and tv markets. McCabe is going directly to discover the function of the show's writer Aaron Sorkin as a television auteur and investigates the program's aesthetic ideas, together with the exact glance, suppose, and sounds of the sequence. McCabe concludes via contemplating the political discourse of The West Wing, because the convey replied to a U.S. tradition divided by means of politics, race, and gender in addition to the trauma of September 11 and anxieties over terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
McCabe's research of The West Wing offers an fascinating examine the institutional, formal, and cultural politics of tv. enthusiasts of the sequence in addition to scholars and academics of tv historical past will take pleasure in this distinct volume.
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Additional info for The West Wing
Strategized as smart adult counterprogramming leading into Law & Order (1990–2010), The West Wing helped boost the NBC brand “as the network of ‘upscale,’ college-educated, eighteen- to fortynine-year-old viewers” (Lotz 2007, 270). NBC executives never failed to mention how the political drama delivered a disproportionately high number of affluent, upwardly mobile, better-educated, urban-minded professionals, ranking first among primetime shows in the percentage of eighteen- to forty-nine-year-olds boasting a median income of $75,000 and above (Carter 2002; Huff 2002; Lowry 2002).
Humor was often used to defuse conflict and even deflate the hubris of power. Intentional or not, self-deprecating or not, characters specialized in smart quips, witty remarks, or droll mockery. Humor translated unappealing traits—Josh’s arrogance, Toby’s self-righteousness, the president’s know-it-allness—into mild eccentricity and endearing foibles. For example, in “The Drop-In,” Josh wades into a debate between Bartlet and Leo on the merits of a nuclear missile defense system. 45 Josh: You know.
Owned, sometimes without necessarily being watched, the collector’s box set sits on shelves alongside novels, music, and film titles, sending out important messages about what we culturally invest in. Just as Bartlet relishes handling an 1886 first edition copy of The Fables of Phaedrus, with red leather label complete with gilt lettering and an engraved frontispiece (“In Excelsis Deo,” 1:10), The West Wing on video/DVD is parceled to display aspiration. These objects are quietly fetishized as bold statements about personal preference, consumer habits, and a canon of contemporary taste.