Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"The Hill" Makes Me Ill (through no fault of its own)

If you're a loyal reader of my blog (which, granted, is impossible because I have no readers, but just hypothetically), then you know that I love "The West Wing" more than all other TV shows. So, of course, I tuned in to the premiere of "The Hill" on Sundance tonight to check it out. The show follows the staffers of Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), providing just the kind of political behind-the-scenes look that should enthrall me.

And in one sense, it does. I'm totally engaged by the fast-paced maneuvering on screen. But at the same time, I'm totally depressed. The first episode is all about the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election, and for some reason these poor saps really think that Kerry is going to win. It's awful to watch their optimism knowing that they are wrong. In particular, the close-up shot of the Kerry-Edwards sign on the front lawn of Wexler's Chief of Staff reminds me of the Kerry-Edwards signs I fruitlessly passed out in Pennsylvania probably around the same time that this episode was shot.

Even so, I'm going to give "The Hill" another try next week. After all, the fact that it left me with a sinking feeling verging on nihilism is no reflection on the quality of the show itself. I guess that's the double-edged sword of reality TV — at least reality TV where the action is not completely orchestrated by producers: viewers are treated to the voyeurism that they ask for, but that means they are also denied the escapism that makes most TV watching so delightful. Plus, you can't count on the beautiful narrative arcs and sharp dialogue that Aaron Sorkin provides. If only we lived in his world. I bet Wexler's staff would like that too.


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