TV Critic’s Corner

‘West Wing’ fans really miss their fictional White House

Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet on “The West Wing.”
Paul Drinkwater/NBC
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet on “The West Wing.”

Some TV shows stick. They don’t just air and then disappear into the ether; they continue to speak to fans long after their run is up. They become cultural beacons. “The Wire” is a great example, and so is “The West Wing.”

“The West Wing” is a smart, potent drama that has stuck in the years since it ended in 2006, with old and new fans celebrating the show unceasingly on Twitter and, since 2016, in a podcast called “The West Wing Weekly.” In talking about his musical “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda has said he counts the series as an important inspiration.

Since the election of Donald Trump, the fandom for the show has gained some urgency. Reruns of “The West Wing” have offered viewers refuge from the chaotic and relentless Trump headlines, portraying an idealized White House that, for the better part of seven seasons, is run by brainy staffers and led by a history whiz named Josiah Bartlet. All of the characters struggle with ethical dilemmas, and they also share a belief in democracy. The tone of the series is optimistic and respectful of the viewer’s intelligence. Since 2006, cast members have reunited for various online videos, and recently creator Aaron Sorkin said he wouldn’t be opposed to a reboot of some kind.


The enthusiasm for the show is now building up to a “West Wing” weekend from Sept. 28-30 this year in Bethesda, Md. The weekend will include panels, reenactments, trivia quizzes, and, of course, cast appearances (including, so far, Melissa Fitzgerald and Kathleen York). A Kickstarter campaign for the convention was launched on Jan. 4 to raise $10,000, and it was fully funded within two days.

Now the Kickstarter campaign has been extended, so that the event coordinators can include a dessert bar as well as a video crew to film the event for all backers and attendees.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.