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These are dark times indeed for liberals on both sides of the Atlantic with last year’s results in Presidential elections and EU referendums making us realise that our left-wing social media bubbles didn’t really represent the real world around us (shock horror). The first week of President Trump’s time in the real life West Wing has sent shockwaves around the world thanks to his increasingly extreme executive orders. This has led to protests and marches on a scale we’ve not seen in years, as well as a backlash from (sigh) ‘elitist Hollywood luvvies’.
Standing up to Trump and his puppet masters is the most important thing we can all do right now, but the last time the Oval Office was occupied by a Republican, we also had the soothing televisual balm of The West Wing to help us dream of a happier world where the government was being run by good, moral people with an inclusive agenda, warm hearts and good spelling. Bush was the President in real life but Bartlet was the President we hoped for.
Four More Years?
The West Wing finished midway through Bush’s second term, electing a Latino president in the form of Jimmy Smits’ Matt Santos at a time when Barack Obama was starting his journey towards the White House. During the Obama years, we could sit back and enjoy the cynicism and double-dealing of House Of Cards instead, as while Frank Underwood may be from the same political party as Jed Bartlet and Obama, he’s cut from a very different cloth. Now he looks like Lincoln when compared to the real President.
So what we need now isn’t more Underwood, we need a new TV President to offer up hope and inspiration in dark times. We’re in an era when so many old TV shows are being revived, from Twin Peaks (hurrah!) to Will And Grace (erm…) so why not a new series of The West Wing? The cast are (mostly) already very active on Twitter in their opposition to Trump, particularly Richard Schiff (Toby) and Bradley Whitford (Josh), who are both staying very true to their characters right now.
The West Wing Season 8 Starts Here
What would The West Wing look like in 2017? Firstly, no reboot! We need a continuation, picking up the story roughly in real time from where it finished. Here goes:
President Santos served just one term in the White House, losing out on re-election to an unconventional Republican candidate (sound familiar?) who proved to be an incredibly divisive and unpopular President. He also lasted just one term, losing to former Bartlet Press Secretary and Chief Of Staff CJ Cregg, running on a ticket with VP (and former Santos Chief Of Staff) Josh Lyman.
The show picks up early in Cregg’s new administration, with the incoming President already battling to overturn many of her predecessor’s more controversial policies, despite the Republicans still holding much of the power on the Hill. Her position as the first ever female President is also creating fresh battles, but she is ably assisted by Chief Of Staff Donna Moss (formerly Chief Of Staff to First Lady Helen Santos) and Press Secretary Annabeth Schott.
Other returning characters would include Amy Gardner and Will Bailey, both in Congress, while Toby Ziegler works as a political analyst, having struggled to get back into politics following the shuttle leak controversy. His criticisms of early decision by President Cregg cause some friction between them. Charlie Young now works as an Associate White House Counsel, with Ainsley Hayes as Counsel, having filled that role during the Santos administration.
Along with Toby, other causes of strife for President Cregg come from some typical Josh moments from her new VP as well as issues for her husband Danny Concannon, who struggles to settle into his role as the first ever First Gentleman, after a career in the press. And then there’s the modern world, which has moved on a lot since 2006. Social media, fake news, alt-right, ISIS, etc. Luckily, she still has the counsel of her old boss President Jed Bartlet, whose health is declining but is still a wise ally for the new Leader Of The Free World.
So, yeah, it’s as easy as that really. Obviously we’d need Aaron Sorkin to come back to the show to bring back the snap and sparkle of the early seasons and there’d need to be some fresh young characters to add into the mix (frankly I couldn’t be bothered inventing them for this piece) and there you have The West Wing Season 8 and beyond.