Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S01E16 – 20 Hours in L.A.

In the sixteenth episode of the first season of The West Wing, a fundraising party in Los Angeles goes awry when the patron threatens to cancel if the President does not go on record as being against a ban on gays in the military. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.



HEY, MY CUTE SHIPPING POWERS ACTIVATED FOR A SINGLE EPISODE. Whoa, where did those feelings come from? Oh god, I’m so happy I didn’t have to wade through a hundred episodes to get more of Joey Lucas. It’s weird how my perception of romance has changed over the last couple years. I was revolted by it in general, had no concept of shipping in any personal sense, and often thought less of stories that included it. Could y’all tell I was super bitter? That doesn’t mean this is the case with everyone, obviously. There are aromantic and asexual folks who probably tire of romance-centric stories, so I don’t want to make it seem like the only reason people might not to be into this sort of stuff is because they’re sad bitter queens like me. But that’s my case! When I started Mark Reads Harry Potter as a thing, I’d just gotten out of a long term relationship rather traumatically, and I felt like Marjane: Love was a petty bourgeois emotion. Pair that with four-and-a-half years of sifting through the worst fanfiction (bandom fanfiction OH GOD) because it was required of my position at Buzznet, and you’ve got a recipe for TOTAL DISASTER. God, I was such a hateful hermit, I swear. And then I found out there was well-written fanfic. And then Adama/Roslin happened AND EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL UNTIL THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. And then I fell in love out of nowhere, and now I am this unending ball of emotional turmoil. I swear, I tear up like 20 times a week lately! I have been watching Parks & Rec at the gym to desperately try and catch up (I’M SO CLOSE), and I watched the jrqqvat bs ora naq yrfyvr and I was so happy I was sweating because they hid the tears really well.

This is all a very ridiculous way of saying that I loved the experience of Joey and Josh flirting. Their story wasn’t as substantive as other parts of “20 Hours in L.A.,” but I enjoyed it nonetheless. SHE IS SO CUTE AND SMART AND I JUST WANT HER TO WORK FOR THE PRESIDENT SO SHE CAN BE IN EVERY EPISODE. So go dump Kiefer, Joey, and rule over the White House with C.J. IT’LL BE GREAT. EVERYONE WINS.


Oh, so her and Charlie are dating! That wasn’t ever made clear before, just hinted at. I approve of this. It is terrifying, then, to see how far people will go to show that they don’t approve of it. This episode didn’t spend a lot of time on it, but I’m wondering if we’ll see more of those terrifying white supremacists in the future. My god, I know we’ve been talking about race a lot on Mark Watches this week, but it’ll always blow my mind that people are willing to physically threaten someone for dating a black person. That’s a thing that people do. God, racism is the worst.

I’m also interested to see if the show is going to show Zoey having a breaking point when it comes to her security detail. We got to meet her new Secret Service guard, and it seems that Gina is better-suited for Zoey, giving her someone she can relate to and be honest with. That being said, Zoey is more concerned than ever that she can’t have a normal life as long as she’s got the Secret Service tailing after her. It’s only going to get worse, isn’t it? Of course. Of course it is.

Vice President Hoynes

Well, that was a nuanced and fascinating take on the Vice President. When he’s called in to vote on an ethanol tax credit to break a tie in the Senate, the drama we’ve seen hinted at in the past comes to a furious head. The White House is asking him to cast a vote that would oppose his own voting record, which would make him the whipping boy of the Republican party in a heartbeat. Now, The West Wing deals with the intricate details of the bipartisan system in America, and I think it’s done a fine (if at times biased) job of conveying that to the audience. I do worry that perhaps some of this show is too political to the point that it’s confusing to people unfamiliar with the United States’ system. Still, I didn’t expect that this episode would find a way to make Hoynes’s fury and rejection the moral keystone of Bartlet’s own story. I am starting to get the sense that Hoynes is ignored until he’s needed and that people don’t really take him seriously. What stands out is the fact that Hoynes was consistent. He believed the ethanol tax credit was a bad idea, he stuck to it, and he publicly made this clear. Which ties neatly into the main plot!

Bartlet’s Day in Los Angeles

Throughout Bartlet’s day in Los Angeles, he is constantly tested in terms of his political stance on a number of issues. He’s bored stiff by a long, repetitive meeting he has with constituents who want flag burning to be banned in the U.S., and he isn’t even sure why it’s such a huge deal. (I loved that he asked if there was some sort of mass flag burning epidemic going on that he was unaware of.) But at the end of this meeting, he doesn’t give his stance on the issue. When he meets with Kiefer during his co-opted lunch with Zoey, he doesn’t respond to the man’s insistence that Bartlet can win the next election by leading the charge for a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Which… I am not even a pollster, and I know that’s not true.

Regardless, it’s when Bartlet meets with Ted Marcus that his story intersects with Hoynes’s. I admit that I don’t understand why gays being allowed in the military is the hill that Marcus wanted to die on because… well, shit, certainly there are other issues affecting gay and queer folks that are far more important than that? Well, it is what it is. And I understand Bartlet’s reluctance here to come out publicly because it would frame the argument in a way that might ruin the chances of it failing in the House. I get that! But the ultimate point here is that Hoynes stuck with his opinion regardless of what fallout might occur. That’s something Bartlet doesn’t do once in this entire episode. And by gods, the man is so tired. I was worried he’d have another MS flare up because I felt exhausted by the time this episode ended. When do these people sleep??? That moment where Bartlet looks like he’s going to collapse and fall asleep in Marcus’s study just made me sad. Poor guy can’t get any rest at all. 🙁

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Mark Links Stuff

– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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