The performers weren’t doing it only for kicks, although they did appear to get a kick out of re-embodying the roles they’d made iconic, displaying a straightforward camaraderie and a deftly acquainted mastery of the dialogue quirks and character eccentricities we have since come to name “Sorkinesque.” No, they’d reunited with the aim of supporting When We All Vote, the nonpartisan group based by Michelle Obama, with the aim of encouraging electoral participation significantly amongst teams with vital undervotes, resembling youth and communities of shade.
It is a tremendously worthy trigger. The occasion — streamed on HBO Max (HBO is a sister firm of CNN below the possession of WarnerMedia) — was a beneficiant donation of time and the valuable commodity of superstar. And for individuals who had been younger, scrappy and hungry again when “The West Wing” was at peak relevance, it was doubtless a blissful injection of high-minded liberal nostalgia immediately into the femoral artery.
But when it was tacitly meant as a motivational reminder of higher days, days after we had Presidents Who Acted Like Presidents, I am unable to be the one one for whom the efficiency had the other impact. As a result of by making a direct enchantment to followers of an earlier (and fictional) presidential period, the actors and creators pulled an anodyne scrim throughout what’s taking place in at the moment’s White Home.
Which implies that at the same time as somebody who loved “The West Wing” within the early 2000s, I discovered myself tooth-grindingly irritated Thursday at the entire purposefully droll “enterprise” occupying a lot of the episode: Deputy chief of workers Josh (Bradley Whitford) obsesses over the electoral consequence of the fictional early-voting 42-person hamlet of Hartsfield’s Touchdown. Press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) and POTUS bodyman Charlie Younger (Dulé Hill) have interaction in a doubtful duel of escalating pranks. President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) performs chess with senior aides Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) and Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) — all of this happening below the looming shadow of a possible sizzling conflict with China over Taiwan, which precisely one staffer appears to be taking critically: Chief of Workers Leo McGarry (performed by Sterling Ok. Brown, filling in for the late John Spencer).
That is why in “The West Wing,” the equal of a coworker by chance consuming the donut you’d been saving within the workplace breakroom will get as a lot — or extra — display time as a possible geopolitical battle that might cascade into World Conflict III and erase tens of millions of lives.
However from the vantage level of at the moment, “humanize” reads rather a lot like “normalize,” and we have gotten desperately uninterested in makes an attempt to normalize what’s decidedly not regular.
Sure, it is actually enjoyable dipping again into the classic milieu of a extra harmless time, however Bradley Whitford, out of character, jokingly admitted one thing near the reality in his introductory remarks earlier than the efficiency: “We went to When We All Vote and mentioned, ‘You guys are an amazing group, serving to to get out the vote, fight voter suppression — what can we, the Individuals’s Alternative Award nominated solid of the West Wing do to assist? They considered it a second and mentioned, ‘Nothing. You haven’t any abilities or expertise that may assist us in any manner. Why do not you go placed on one in every of your little reveals the place every part works out in the long run?’ And so, forgetting to issue for sarcasm, we mentioned ‘Certain!'”