Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, millions of viewers tuned into ‘The West Wing’ once a week to watch the government-theme series unravel. Aaron Sorkin, the creator of ‘The West Wing’, diligently crafted a TV series focused on the way the United States government functions as a whole. Indeed, the show served as a brilliant entertainment experience but unfortunately portrays the government as something it is not: friendly and simplified. This paper will discuss the role of ‘The West Wing’ in modern political science education as well as how the show incorrectly represented the government system while providing a solution to its inadequacy.
Generally, television critics focus on how well a show serves as an entertainment value. For some, ‘The West Wing’ was just a series purely for entertainment. For those who strive to educate themselves in political science, the show was lackluster in the educational department. The West Wing depicted our government as being controlled by only a few characters, unlawfully taking away from our complex systems of bureaucracy. As suggested by “Why ‘The West Wing’ Is A Terrible Guide to American Democracy” by Yair Rosenberg, ‘The West Wing’ “reduces the complex bureaucracy of the executive branch into a few key character roles” (9). Because TV shows are primarily used for entertaining their viewers, it would have been unrealistic to have different characters each show on ‘The West Wing’. However, because many Americans watched the show to educate themselves on the enactments of the government, the show serves as a false hope of a simpler government system. In Joshua Malina’s podcast “Five Votes Down”, he describes the inadequac...
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...e been very educational for many reasons.
In conclusion, ‘The West Wing’ doesn’t only portray our government as a body of personal interests, but also serves as a fallacy of pedagogical tool. With its few characters that inhabit the show along with the injection of personalities, ‘The West Wing’ ineffectively educates viewers of the complexity of the United States government. This paper discusses the value of the show as a tool of learning while discussing what solutions could have been taken by the writers and creators to ensure an educational series. While the TV show was a wonderfully conducted series full of hardworking characters, it actually takes away from the reality of the script. Generations of young TV viewers may once again come in contact with ‘The West Wing’, but unfortunately will not be subjected to the educational value the show may have once had.
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