Recently Netflix posted 156 episodes of The West Wing, seven seasons, and I’m whistling the theme song, dreaming of C. J., and worrying about political disputes now 14 years old… and fictional.
I was once so proud of missing the first incarnation. From 1999-2006, when people talked about The West Wing, I shrugged and blithely said, “Never seen it.” When others writhed in disbelief, I smirked. When they insisted I could catch up and that catching up would be worth it, I resisted their evil temptations. I would hold out.
Then Netflix brought it back. Like my mother, hurt that I turned down last night’s boiled cabbage, Netflix brought me a steaming bowlful for breakfast. Only, in this analogy The West Wing isn’t boiled cabbage, it’s green eggs and ham—delicious and served in such perfect portions I always have room for one… more… episode.
Now I’m sleepy and cranky and interested in little else.
A colleague at work told me about someone on Twitter who shares my dilemma. Like me, he’s watching the series for the first time and tweeting witty exaltation about “developments” in the last episode he watched… as if it aired last night, as if anyone in this day and age knew what the hell he was talking about or could share his enthusiasm. But I do understand. I know. I too feel the urge to yell “Let Bartlet be Bartlet!” from the rooftops.
I know, I know, that means nothing to you. That’s the trouble with television series on the computer, they are my ugly secret, drinking I do alone in the dim house. My wife discovers me in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed and babbling about getting one more fix. So many ugly confessions to make—Friday Night Lights, Life, Eureka, Dollhouse, Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica, Jericho, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Better Off Ted, Pushing Daisies, Sports Night, Slings and Arrows, The Tudors, A Gifted Man.
I’m hopeless and will need at least 20 steps to get better. Yet who can understand? Who will be my sponsor? I’m caught in a time warp—sort of like Life on Mars, which shouldn’t have been cancelled. I carry my furtive addiction like a looped spoon and a length of surgical tubing, afraid to admit my sickness and afraid to find company, afraid to quit and afraid to seek help.
Last night I finished the end of West Wing’s first season, and I thought I could cut myself off there, go cold turkey, but, after a Town Hall in which—between the President’s brilliant answers during Q and A—Toby learned his brother on the broken space shuttle landed safely, some West Virginian white supremacist Nazi took a shot at Charlie because he’s dating Zooey! I could hardly be expected to wait… how did people manage it when summer months passed between one season and the next? I had to see what happened and what happened had two parts.
122 episodes to go. Help me.