LadyGhosts of TV Past

Ladyghosts: Season One of The West Wing

It took us long enough, but between three or four writers, four months and roughly 25,000 words, we made it from our first introduction to the best POTUS ever when he drove his bicycle into a tree in the pilot until he was caught in the middle of an assassination attempt in the finale.  Let’s take a quick look back before we hit Season Two next week.

The Characters

Josiah “Jed” Bartlet – President of the United States, former economics professor, font of useless facts, plays chess, has temper.  Married to Dr. Abby Bartlet, whom he calls Dr. Bartlet for the turn-on.  Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis seven years previous, only a handful of people know.  Father to three daughters, we’ve met his youngest, Zoey.

Leo McGarry – White House Chief of Staff.  Former Secretary of Labor, possible oil baron, divorced from his wife Jenny, father of Mallory, best friend of President Bartlet. Leo is the force that keeps the administration moving, and is constantly inspiring his team through a combination of fear and warmth that seems to work for him.  Serves as a father figure to Josh. Recovering alcoholic and drug user.

Josh Lyman – Deputy White House Chief of Staff.  Josh is the man who goes to the Hill. Handling all the legislative issues and elected representatives with a combination of wit, smarm, ego and unrestrained id, Josh is the fella any of us would want on our side in a flame war.  He treats his assistant, Donna, like crap 87% of the time.

Toby Zeigler – White House Communications Director.  Toby writes all the words, and feels all the unfuzzy feelings, and looks at the world through his sad, sad brown eyes.  And for this, he is awesome.  Toby is divorced from Congresswoman Andi Wyatt, and has a brother who’s an astronaut.

Toby Zeigler once wrestled a grizzly bear for control of a nuclear submarine*, he doesn't give a shit about your panda. *Allegedly.

CJ Cregg – Our Goddess.  White House Press Secretary. Knows how to make the press feel special, likes to be in the loop, knows every word to The Jackal, likes goldfish, also has goldfish, Gail,  from her longtime flirtation, Danny Concannon, reporter.

Charlie Young – Special Assistant to the President.  Charlie, in addition to being the president’s body man and the best college boyfriend ever, cares for his younger sister since their mother was killed in the line of duty as a police officer.  Dates the president’s daughter, Zoey, in spite of death threats against the couple by white supremacist groups.

Sam Seaborn – Deputy Communications Director, Sam writes the words with Toby.  He also befriends call girls, knows how to explain the census and looks really cute in glasses. Sort of dates Leo’s daughter Mallory, who kisses him after he writes a beautiful letter in support of her father.

Admiral Percy “Fitz” Fitzwallace – A Joint Chief of Staff and badass general.  Fitz helps pave the way for gays in the military, has finely honed critical thinking skills, can crack wise when needed and is almost universally a Big Damn Hero.

The Situation Room Gang – The military and government badasses with the keys to the underground room where all the war happens.  I’m not sure if they’re the same fellows each week, but I’m going to start paying better attention in Season Two.

Military men in the Situation Room on the 1999-2006 television drama The West Wing. Season 1, episode 3 "A Proportional Response."

Donna Moss – Josh’s long-suffering, somewhat irritating (just in Season One!) assistant.  Donna is the vessel for explaining all of the political/legislative/diplomatic issues and topics Aaron Sorkin thought might go over our heads, so he has Josh explain everything to Donna, sometimes as if her head is filled with actual fluff.

It's the love that makes her glow.

Margaret – Leo’s long-suffering assistant with a wry sense of sarcasm and limited computer skills.  Accused of hacking the White House with an email forward.

Danny Concannon – White House beat reporter, much more likable than he was on thirtysomething, buyer of goldfish, ginger. I’ve struggled to spell his name right for the whole season.

Zoey Bartlet – Awesome college student who only takes being the daughter of the POTUS in stride, possibly because of her perfect college boyfriend, Charlie.

Dr. Abby Bartlet – The First Lady, also a heart surgeon and humanitarian.  Manages her husband’s MS on the sly.  Knows how to spice up a state dinner.

Joey Lucas – Political analyst and pollster from California who is a potential love interest for Josh and sadly missed in the episodes she’s not in.

ToePick – She who shan’t be mentioned again, since she’s got a one-way ticket to Mandyville.  Funny story: I was futzing around with an online photo gadget that let’s one put the fancy on, for free, with some of my TWW screen caps.  One of the photo filters is called “patriotic” and it vomits a red, white and blue sunburst on your photo.   I was trying to be a smart ass and put the Mandy-cap in an unflattering light, but this is what happened instead.  Behold, for it is AWESOME.


Here’s a comprehensive list of all of the season one episodes as interpreted by your crack Persephone team.  Catch up and join me next week for a recap of the first episode of Season Two, and Sally J. the week after for part two.

“‘Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc'”
“A Proportional Response”
“The Crackpots and These Women”
“Mr. Willis of Ohio”
“The State Dinner”
“The Short List”
“In Excelsis Deo”
“Lord John Marbury”
“He Shall, From Time to Time”
“Take Out the Trash Day”
“Take This Sabbath Day”
“Celestial Navigation”
“20 Hours in L.A.”
“The White House Pro-Am”
“Six Meetings Before Lunch”
“Let Bartlet Be Bartlet”
“Mandatory Minimums”
“Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”
“What Kind of Day Has it Been?”

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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