Mark Watches ‘The West Wing’: S01E21 – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

In the twenty-first episode of the first season of The West Wing, THIS IS SO SUSPENSEFUL AND I LOVE IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The West Wing.

This show has hit its stride, and it’s done so beautifully.

  • It’s not like the show hasn’t been engaging, exciting, or thought-provoking before “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.” I was already enjoying it quite a bit! But The West Wing feels so different now, like it’s been injected with this new, thrilling bit of energy, and I’m loving it. Goddamn, this show is so good right now.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching Donna and Josh interact with one another. Their chemistry is hilarious. I would totally understand if y’all shipped them because have you seen them. I’m more of a Josh/Joey person at the moment. Plus, I feel like Donna pretty much openly ships Josh/Joey anyway. Come on, look at the way she acts! She totally does.
  • Polling time! It is a goddamn feat of writing that this show is able to make approval polling so exciting and thrilling. Bravo, The West Wing.
  • So are the writers just going to use Mandy to move the plot along? I will say that’s my only problem with the show at this point. They introduced her in a way that made her seem like an important character, and she’s just faded into the background. It’s disappointing.
  • I once worked the phones for the Alumni Association at Cal State Long Beach. Since then, I’ve worked about four different jobs involving phone banks/polling, including Nielsen and Ticketmaster. It is the quickest way to make a person feel like dementors are real.
  • Leo barely hides the fact that he’s trying to manipulate Barry Haskel. Holy hell, what an entertaining scene. The rifle exercise! It’s so amazing! Clearly, this team is willing to do anything they can to finally enact some change in Washington, and it’s a blast to watch.
  • Here’s an example of the opening credits spoiling a plot point: As soon as I saw Lisa Edelstein’s name, I knew that Sam would find a way to visit Laurie, either at her graduation or some place else. That being said, it still didn’t prepare me for what ultimately happened. Which I will get to later! But I was pleased that the writers are so open about how gross this whole situation is. I admit that I don’t think Laurie was handled well in the early parts of the show, but I’m more satisfied now.
  • I just realized that the actress who plays Laurie’s friend was also Amy on LOST. That’s where I recognized her!
  • C.J.’s characterization has been subtle over the course of this season, so much so that I didn’t even really pick up on what was happening until she began to speak openly about her concern for her own job. After quite a few gaffes and mistakes, it’s not hard to see why she might perceive that she won’t last on the staff. Which is depressing because I think that C.J. genuinely does a fantastic job! But it also looks like Leo might be snubbing her or treating her differently for some reason. It would partially explain why she lashed out at Danny in the last few episodes: He may have inadvertently brought this upon her after running the story on Mandy’s strategy memo. I really don’t want a show without Allison Janney on it, so I’m hoping this is just a brief bump for her and nothing more.
  • Remember how I said I had a thing for people trolling Josh? This is why I adore Joey Lucas. She purposely refuses to argue on his terms, she makes fun of him, and then she saves her best line for the moment she’s in front of the President. Get it, Joey.
  • It’s just weird to hear a White House Press Secretary, even one who is fictional, spell out to an audience precisely why mandatory minimums are transparently racist. IT’S JUST SO WEIRD. Again, this show is deliberately tapping into my radical liberal fantasy, and it’s not fair.
  • I thought it was sweet and clever of Sam to arrange a way to meet Laurie so he could give her a graduation present. That’s why it makes me so made that Janeane betrayed her friend, and that this is even a story. What gives me hope is the President’s response. He knows his team can handle this, but he makes sure to go out of his way to try and make things better for Laurie. She’s not a part of his staff, and she won’t have the same sort of protection as they do. And that was awesome of him.
  • Also, Toby defended Sam. Never forget.
  • Okay, I did not realize the Gramercy Club was a strip club until after the episode ended. I thought it was like… a private athletic club or something, so I initially did not understand why the whole thing was a big deal. NOW I GET IT. I GET IT. Oh shit, Charlie is so awesome. He is so smug to Cochran, and it’s beautiful. He rejected Bartlet’s finely honed sense! Can I just imagine that Charlie did this on purpose to help the President? Yes? Good.
  • Oh my god SO THAT’S WHAT THE WHOLE AMBASSADOR PLOT WAS FOR. Oh my god, the president has four people of his own in the FEC.
  • THIS TEAM IS GETTING SHIT DONE. And nothing proves that more than the fact that the President’s approval rating went up NINE FUCKING POINTS. Oh my god. IT’S WORKING.

The video commission for this episode is now archived on for just $0.99!

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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