The West Wing TV Poster Image

The West Wing

Intelligent political drama for mature viewers.
Popular with kids
  • Network: NBC
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series gives an overwhelmingly positive view of White House politics -- a view that's inspiring and patriotic. The sentiments of the president tend toward the progressive, rather than the conservative. Themes include humility and integrity.

Positive role models

Many of the regular characters are inspiring -- they are moral, passionate, committed to their jobs and their country, loyal, and whip smart.


Discussion of war and terrorism and the casualties of both.

Not applicable

Mild profanity.


Starbucks and some networks and political polls are mentioned often.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Celebratory champagne or wine or beer with a meal.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The West Wing is meant for mature audiences, not because of the language or any type of sexual overtones, but because the dialogue and plots are very intricate. But for a smart high school kid, especially one with an interest in social studies or political science, this show could be a slam dunk. Furthermore, the regular characters are all inspirational role models who work hard to make the U.S. a better place.

What's the story?

THE WEST WING was the hit political drama that kept people talking for years. The show followed the Bartlett administration and his staff through two terms of political ups and downs, scandals and policy, and the daily hullabaloo associated with the running of the Executive Branch of the United States. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the show starred Martin Sheen as the president. Other cast members included Bradley Whitford, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, John Spencer, and Stockard Channing.

Is it any good?


What truly sets this award-winning show apart from its network drama counterparts is the superb writing. Oftentimes the writing in network dramas seems to pander to the audience so that the least intelligent audience member will understand. Not so with The West Wing, where the dialogue is so rushed, the characters so developed and rich, and the plot so intricate that even the most seasoned political aficionado may have difficulty keeping up.

But the most remarkable component of the writing is the speeches that are written for the president. Whether it's a stump speech at his re-election campaign, a State of the Union address, or a private meeting with a priest or mayor, President Bartlett never ceases to inspire with his strong, patriotic words.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about any of the topics around which each episode of The West Wing is based. This can include immigration, war, terrorism, abortion, the use of nuclear energy, and elections. They can also talk about how realistic the portrayal of White House life is.

  • How do the characters in The West Wing demonstrate humility and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:September 22, 1999
Cast:Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Martin Sheen
Character strengths:Humility, Integrity
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The West Wing was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAragorn King of... September 7, 2009

Very mature drama.

Love this show
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byski123 April 9, 2008

One of the few good TV shows

Adult Written bymoviemadness December 29, 2009

Superb Political Drama

The West Wing is one of the few television series today that are truly excellent, intellectual, and thought-provoking. The series follows the major players on the West Wing (the wing of the White House that houses the presidential offices and staffers). By observing this fictional administration, viewers gain a great understanding of the United States government and its inner workings. There are also lots of great plot points, laughs, and excellently developed and acted characters. Truly stunning. On the content side, there is very little iffy stuff. Violence/scariness can be an issue with wars, death, tense situations, and even a stalker... Mild language is sometimes heard in tense situations (d**n, h**l) and there are a couple of mild sexual situations. In the end, however, it is a face paced and intelligent show that will be lost on anyone too young to appreciate every word.