Pop culture and politics have always gone hand in hand. From the perpetually political Saturday Night Live (which has experienced a rating surge with its weekly satire of the Trump administration) to more intense and stern shows like Designated Survivor, the ins and outs of Washington D.C. have become an insanely popular landscape for comedy and drama alike. Few TV shows have ever managed to balance those two dramatic styles more than The West Wing, and it now seems that the show has experienced a major resurgence in popularity in the wake of the recent election of Donald Trump in November.
New data from Google Trends confirms that The West Wing has become an increasingly common Google search item in the months since the election. Interest in the White House series has increased steadily over the course of the last year, and it does not seem like a coincidence that this trend developed in the midst (and subsequent wake) of a major presidential election. The kicker? Search queries for the iconic NBC series spiked last month between January 20 and January 22 — perfectly in line with Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Even Aaron Sorkin (who has discussed a possible West Wing revival) could not write something that poetic; people have a genuinely newfound interest in the daily process of the presidency, and this show offers them that insight.
It is not difficult to understand why The West Wing has become more relevant in the months since the 2016 election. The show broached plenty of highly political topics that remain incredibly pertinent to this day and age. In its first season alone, the classic series tackled a military conflict in Syria, the gun control issue, and even a vacancy on the Supreme Court. I’m not saying that Aaron Sorkin can see the future, but that is some seriously prescient screenwriting. How could he have known?
While West Wing has become arguably the most dramatic example, other politically charged shows have seen comparable increases in Internet activity in the days since Donald Trump was elected President. Netflix’s House of Cards (a more cynical sister series of The West Wing) saw a surge in traffic around the day of the inauguration. The politics of the real world seem to have made TV audiences more aware of the politics in their pop culture, and now all I can think about is a Jed Bartlet/Frank Underwood 2020 presidential ticket.
As the Trump administration gradually settles into place and new officials make their way into the political sphere, we have a feeling that The West Wing may become even more relevant as time wears on. We will keep you posted as new details become available to us.
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