The West Wing

Everyone has a show, that one show you love completely. Quotes from it find their way into your bio and punctuate your conversations and advice. When the question of favorite television show comes up around people who know you well, they get up to get a drink before you've finished the first sentence of your answer. "This is going to take awhile. Anyone else need something?"

For me, that show is Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing.

I recommend it at every turn. I've studied scripts and may have briefly used the theme song as a ringtone. I find profound insight in its dated, sometimes cornball, dialogue. When I learned that someone created a website dedicated to a single episode, I felt like a kid waking up on a snow day.

I have a weakness for presidential storylines and a predilection for optimism. It's fair to say that little of The West Wing is realistic, and some of disappoints now, but it's a hopeful place and I enjoy being inspired now and then.

Since the show features speechwriters in lead roles, it spends an unusual amount of time on the writing craft and the power of well-chosen words. So when I write about Uncommon being a place for wonder and whimsy, all I can hear in my head is this gentle critique of a speech:

You're alliteration happy: "guardians of gridlock," "protectors of privilege." I needed an avalanche of Advil.

As you might have guessed, I've watched the show a few times now. As when you revisit anything, there are new things to appreciate and previously undetected flaws revealed. Recently, one line of dialogue has been replaying in my head.

I'm just saying that there's a way to be a person.

I hear that whenever I'm debating between two options and resisting the one I know is right. For some reason, it resonates with me now, but I hardly noticed it before.

Unlike movies and books, we spend week after week with a show. Over the years, they become part of our own story—the people we share them with, the binge watching, and theme parties. There are shows that end far too soon, characters that thrill and infuriate us, and finales that we debate with gusto.

The best shows give us one of life's great pleasures: turning to one of your favorite people late at night with mischievous grin and saying, "C'mon, let's watch one more."