I think I know what I’m gonna talk about this post, because here is where it finally started trickling through–like blood through a wound under gauze. Back during the filming and release of the pilot for West Wing, some allegations started going around that the people behind the show were racists. You see, none of the principal cast members of the series–CJ, Sam, Josh, Toby, Leo, Mandy or the President–are visible minorities. This worry despite the fact that the President’s Hispanic–seriously, nobody noticed that the white guy’s last name was really Estevez? “From New England”–chyuh, right, the kind of New England that [some really racist joke that would likely be a step too far and that I’m not gonna be bothered to think of anyway cos it’s hard being racist]. But, the thing happening with all them people watching the series was, they said “Aaron Sorkin, did you exclude blacks on purpose?!”
Now, I watched Grey’s Anatomy from the day it premiered to the Writer’s Strike and I can tell you this: casting in Hollywood is a bitch. No matter what you do, you always end up with casting directors sending you white people. And after about two rounds of auditions with nothing but white people, Shonda Rhimes asked the casting agents where all the black actors or Asian actors or Hispanic actors were. And for that matter, the big-boned actresses that the show would later become famous for. Turns out they had to be specified as “diverse roles” to even consider hiring a non-white person for them. But Aaron Sorkin, non-racist and egotist he is, says that he’ll show them who’s racist or not, and did one of my favourite things in television: cast pretty much all of the major supporting roles with visible minorities. Yes, it does get a bit Magical Negro at times, but–aside from this episode–race is never made into an issue with any of them. And this episode brings in the first black regular character in the form of Charlie Young.
Charlie is a nice young guy. He came to the White House to interview for a messenger job as he’ll tell you over and over again, and the woman who screened him for the President sent him into a room to wait. Next thing he sees, Josh Lyman is interviewing him to be personal aide to the President. Italics are mine to emphasize that this is not a simple, taken lightly task, and Charlie does the first thing anyone very, very nervous and accustomed to disappointment does: he tries to get the messenger position again. But Charlie happens to have come to the West Wing at a time when no one is prepared to have him disagree with them. See, three days ago, the airplane carrying Morris Tolliver, personal physician to the President, was shot down by the Syrian defense ministry. It was the Syrian defense ministry right? I’ll check before I post this at the Tropes.
You know, TVTropes and I had sort of a falling out a while ago. I hope we can get back together over some nice tea, but I’m pretty sure those people wouldn’t like me anyway. But none of that is important because right now, the President is angry at everyone in the White House, from his wife to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to literally everyone. He insists that he isn’t taking this personally, but his actions this episode provide the title: “A Proportional Response”. Specifically, he asks a question I find my parents asking more and more often as they grow older: what is the virtue of a proportional response?
This episode was apparently cobbled together from leftover scenes from one of Aaron Sorkin’s movies–yes, I am literally so can’t be bothered at half past eleven that I’m not looking that up–and re-cut into a tv series. If I’m not mistaken, that’s how the TV series started–deleted scenes of a movie, fleshed out with more characters. TRANSITION I guess the big theme this episode is anger. Yeah, you caught me, this is a bit of filler. I promise to flesh it out, though. Pinky-swear.