This weekend, HLN will broadcast a marathon of The West Wing while most families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S. This will be the first time the CNN Worldwide channel has aired a scripted series, so it may be a major experiment. According to a report by Deadline, it was an idea proposed as part of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger process.
HLN is meant to be a spinoff of CNN with mixed programming including news, true crime documentaries and court dramas. However, it has never aired a scripted, fictional series like The West Wing – until now. The network will reportedly begin with Season 1, Episode 1 of the acclaimed political drama on Thanksgiving Day and continue to air it straight through Sunday. This will leave enough time to air the first four seasons in their entirety – 90 episodes in total.
The West Wing aired from 1999 to 2006 on NBC, but was produced by Warner Bros. Television so it remains on Warner's in-house streaming service, HBO Max. You can stream all 7 seasons of the show there now, along with the 2020 reunion special A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote. There are 155 episodes in total.
The West Wing was created by writer Aaron Sorkin and is a drama about the president's staff set in the White House. It depicts an idealized version of public service as far as most critics are concerned, but it has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years as the U.S. becomes politically divided. Many fans on social media have remarked on the sense of righteousness the series exudes, restoring their faith in institutions and the people behind them.
On the other hand, The West Wing has been criticized at times for being too idealized and engaging in impractical fantasy that distracts from real political engagement. Some reviewers have argued that the show has a responsibility to represent things accurately since its subject matter is so vital to life in a democratic republic. In the last few years, retrospective reviews of The West Wing have become even more popular.
The show will undoubtedly be back in the trending topics this weekend as it takes over cable channels across the U.S. You can binge the show on HLN or simply put it on for background noise during a family reunion. Otherwise, you can stream it on HBO Max.