It was completely made up, but somehow true; it offered a contrast to real politics, but also identified genuine political dilemmas; it was make-believe that somehow made people believe that politics had a point after all. And it lasted over a full, two-term presidency. ... Right-wing critics dismissed the series as a left-wing fetish, an idealized fantasy of what Bill Clinton could have been if he had not been Bill Clinton. Yet Republicans tuned in as avidly as Democrats; British and Japanese viewers became as thoroughly hooked as Americans. The show’s success went far beyond partisan politics; it takes more than ideology to make people sit through an hour of television based on whether or not the U.S. Senate will pass the education budget. ... America produces the worst television in the world but also, very occasionally, the best. The West Wing was one of those entertainments that changed the landscape by dumbing-up, reminding viewers that politics, ludicrous and corrupt though it is, can also be funny, thoughtful and important. Farewell President Bartlet, the best leader America never had.(Hat tip to TV Squad.)
READ MORE: “‘West Wing’ Deals With Its Final Days,” by Alan Pergament (The Buffalo News).