Aaron Sorkin is a name that is alternately praised and hated depending on what industry you work in. If you work as a journalist the chances are you’ll hate him for The Newsroom. If you’re in the tech industry you’ll be sceptical of his handling of the Steve Jobs movie. If you are a fan then the comedy Sports Night will strike a cord.
No matter where you stand on Sorkin the chances are that you will have heard the name “The West Wing”. The West Wing was a show that followed a fictional American President Josiah Bartlett played by Martin Sheen and his senior staff through their time in the White House, re-election and his replacement. That does not sound like something that would immediately be watchable but the seven seasons are some of the best written and best acted and above all smart television ever made.
There have been a number of criticisms that the characters are too morally pure for people who have managed to climb their way to the top of the American political system and that as a democratic White House that it is too liberal for some. It is also true that the show took a dip in the fifth season or so and compressed the election race of Bartlett’s successor rather more than would be realistic but while there is some truth in these criticisms they do not detract from the sheer watchability of the show.
In the UK the whole show is available on DVD, and if you are a Sky customer is available as a streaming box set. I admit that these are not the easyist ways to jump in but it’s worth it – watch an episode and get hooked.