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I finally got around to watching The West Wing reunion special and even though I was an ardent fan of the original show, I came away feeling a little frustrated. Let’s get this out of the way first: it was amazing seeing the super talented cast slip back into these roles so easily— Martin Sheen was born to play Jed Bartlet, Allison Janney is still wonderful as CJ Cregg, and Richard Schiff is perfect as grouchy White House conscience Toby Ziegler. Sterling K. Brown had the unenviable task of playing Leo McGarry in place of the late John Spencer, and he pulled it off beautifully. Also: Does Rob Lowe age, ever? Same question for Janel Moloney, tbh.
But if the goal of this special performance was to encourage young people to vote, I’m afraid it may have missed the mark. The cut-ins with “why you should vote” messages from special guests like President Bill Clinton, cast member Elisabeth Moss, and Lin-Manuel Miranda ranged from preachy to awkward. Showing an encore performance of an episode of TV that first aired almost 20 years ago on a relatively new paid channel like HBO Max doesn’t seem like the best way to reach young or first-time voters. The audience was likely made up of olds like me who loved the original show, and let’s face it: most people tuning to an Aaron Sorkin political drama have already decided who they’re voting for.
I hope we’ll see a release of The West Wing ...
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