It is no secret that my favorite show ever created is “The West Wing.” This is an odd choice for some people, but since I first started watching it in my freshman year of high school, I’ve been hooked. In case you are not familiar with the premise of the show (which is a shame!), it chronicles the day-to-day operations and lives of the senior white house staffers during a fictional presidency. Try and think of it like “Grey’s Anatomy” but about politics instead of doctors, and a little funnier. It is witty while still being serious, and I adore the style in which the show is written and shot. However, it is the characters that have really kept me rewatching the series at least once a year.
Of course, I love almost every character on the show and it is impossible to pick a favorite, but the topic of this piece is the amazing female role models. As they say on the show during the first season when talking about the virtues of the women who work on staff, “We can’t get over these women.” And I couldn’t agree more. This show came into my life at a time when I was just beginning my time as a woman in the workforce, if we can call my summer job as a lifeguard the start of my professional career. It was also a time in my life when I learned very quickly how difficult it is to be a woman at a job where the majority of the staff is men. This show helped me learn how to deal with all of my career problems, and to be honest, it is something that I turn to even now.
The women in “The West Wing” address the fact that they are women in high profile professional positions, but that isn’t their whole story. One of the best examples of this is the character of Claudia Jean Cregg, or C.J., who plays the white house press secretary on the show. She is strong and assertive, but she never comes off as bossy or pushy in a way a lot of powerful women can seem to be. She is still beautiful, femine and likeable without ever having to sacrifice her authority. I love her for her ability to be fun and funny, as well as be taken seriously by her powerful co-workers. She was such a role model for me at a time when I was trying to figure out how to be a young woman in the world. This is true for most of the women on the show (see Donna Moss and Abbey Barlett), but C.J. just always connected with me.
So, I recommend that in these times of chaos and uncertainty, you can always do what I do; binge watch “The West Wing” and maybe find someone to look up to yourself.