Monday, December 15, 2008

The West Wing: This is What Josh Lyman Would Call "Switching Parties"

First of all, check out this sweet new layout! We're still working out the kinks, but I can't say I'm not pleased. Snaps for Mae, the reluctant XHTML expert!

So, I'm finally moving to a new apartment in January, as soon as I get back from Christmas vacation in Georgia, which meant that I had to go ahead and pack up all my junk because after tomorrow night, I won't be spending any more nights in this apartment. A tear of sadness rolls down my face as the sound of a fire engine and a car alarm blare in the distance. And since it's finals, I went ahead and packed up the non-essentials last week, including most of my DVDs. (I know, I know, how could my boxed sets ever be considered non-essential?)

So the only boxes I left out were the Lost DVDs necessary to keep going with 108 Days in 108 Days and two seasons of The West Wing.

I was really into this show when it was on, a loyal viewer throughout seasons five, six, and seven, when the quality was severely lacking. It's not a series I often return to, and, in fact, my season six boxed set is still in plastic wrap in my bedroom in Atlanta.


Anyway, during the series' run, I was a serious Josh/Donna shipper. I watched it with my high school BFF, and we both were extreme followers of their relationship. This meant, of course, despising Amy Gardner, the only serious love interest (besides arguably Donna) Josh had throughout the run.

In the last four years or so, I've learned a lot:

1. Amy Gardner is awesome, and I basically want to be her.
2. Josh definitely should have ended up with Amy, not Donna.
3. My high school BFF was certifiably insane.

For starters, Amy just kicked a whole lot of political ass. I'm sure part of the reason why Aaron Sorkin wrote the character was that he knew the cast at the time included only three women, one of whom was Donna who, let's face it, wasn't winning any awards for feminism following Josh around for years on end. Because we can talk about her not getting Josh coffee and calling him names, but at the end of the day, Donna was usually around so that Josh could explain political complexities to the audience without staring directly into the camera.

The choice was pretty obvious there, Mr. Sorkin: we're lacking in women; let's hire Mary-Louise Parker to play a feminist lobbyist.

Amy really doesn't take Josh's crap. She's his intellectual and professional equal, and she doesn't hide behind years of misdirection and silly girl behavior. She shows up at Josh's brownstone and kisses him; she tells Josh she's broken up with her Congressman boyfriend; she breaks up with Josh when he gets her fired.

When I was a Josh/Donna shipper, I loved that scene in "Commencement" where Donna calls out Amy on not understanding Josh. Donna dispenses a reality about Josh's psyche (that he "doesn't leave people") and Amy, taken aback, asks Donna, "Are you in love with Josh?"

When I watched this episode during a particularly heinous bout of procrastination, I took a different approach. It felt more like Donna being overly doe-eyed about her boss and Amy calling Donna out on that.

Because in one of her very early appearances, Amy pretty accurately pinpoints Josh as someone who does leave, whenever he gets uncomfortable, calling him "Hit-and-Run Josh."

Josh and Amy's banter is better than Josh and Donna's. Amy challenges and frustrates and allures Josh in a way that Donna never did. In fact, the more I watch in my enlightened state of being, the more the Josh/Donna relationship feels siblingish.

Apparently, Bradley Whitford is inclined to agree with me.

Mary-Louise recounts their filming her first episode: "He came running up to me, saying, 'I love her! I love her! Can we keep her?' And I said, 'Well, OK, if you promise to walk her and feed her and everything'."

Bradley contends to this day that he would have preferred his character end up with Amy instead of Donna.

Yes, I have spent the last two and a half years satisfied with Josh and Donna ending up together, but I'm taking it back. It's hard to feel disappointed at this point, so removed from my shipperdom, but now I wish John Wells & Co. had had the balls to do the right thing and have Josh end up with Amy. Then I could be content that Mr. Lyman would be entertained, intellectually stimulated, and never chided for coming home late. At the time, it was nice to think that Donna could settle Josh down and raise precious little blonde Jewish baby girls with him, but would that have been true to the character?

Not really.

And my best friend from high school can suck it.

3 Responses to “The West Wing: This is What Josh Lyman Would Call "Switching Parties"”

Mae Vaughan said...

First of all, I still seriously want to kill the kinks in this layout. Maybe tomorrow I will have the patience to declare war against it and do whatever it takes to figure the damn thing out.

Second of all, did you seriously just say you wish John Wells & Co had had the balls to do the right thing, and not even take a shot at him for how "the right thing" is clearly not his style? For shame, my friend - the OTP killer must be mocked at ever opportunity!

Anonymous said...

I never liked Amy. Something about her just absolutely rubbed me the wrong way. It might have to do with the fact that I didn't see all her episodes, or many of them in order (I got into the show halfway through my sister's summer marathon); I don't know. But for some reason, a lot of my dislike centers around the fact that she tells Josh he doesn't get to have an opinion on abortion because he "doesn't have a reproductive system". Setting aside the fact that I hate that argument, yes, he does. And if not, I see their breakup in an entirely different light! :P

Eh, whatever. CJ's still my favorite. :D Strong, capable, smart, AND adorable! Women on TV never get to be adorable if they're the other things (including, sadly, later-season Donna)! Awesome. :D

Sophie Shephard said...

Seriously, thank you. I've been a Josh/Amy 'shipper since season three and I get so excited when anyone else loves them. Because it feels like there are only a handful of us in the world.

I could never get behind Josh/Donna, which made me kind of a fandom freak.