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Blogmo Day 2: In Defense of Amy Gardner

December 2, 2008

“I fought you, I lost, I had a drink, I took a shower.  ‘Cause that’s how it is in the NBA.  You know what I do when I win?  Two drinks.” [4.4]

If you had told me, back in 2002, that six years from now, the President-elect would be a black man from Chicago with the middle name of Hussein and that he would be a Democrat, I would have laughed at you. If you told me, that Hillary Clinton would be the likely Secretary of State, I would have assumed you came from some alternate universe, specifically the one where Jed Bartlet was the ruler of the free world.

But if you had also told me that I would grow to appreciate Amy Gardner, Josh Lyman’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, balloon-animal making, professional lobbyist for all things womankind, that I would grow to understand her, I would have called you an outright liar.

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(screencaps via The West Wing Collection )

Upon a rewatch of West Wing season 3, it’s clear my distaste for the character (and certainly ignorance of the amazing Mary-Louise Parker) was largely in part of my Josh/Donna partisanship and the side-effects of being 15 years old.

Amy Gardner was the voice of “no, not for the good of the party/President” dissent. She worked hard, never seemed frazzled, but didn’t fool anyone into thinking she wasn’t going to get exactly what she set out to. Amy refused to let her relationship with Josh prevent her from serving the interests of those she represented (single mothers in one instance- I’m thinking “Posse Comitatus”, where she cuts the phone cord while Josh is on the phone to Democratic leadership). She likes dancing to Van Morrison, and doesn’t see why balloon-animals could be considered unprofessional.

Amy Gardner is good at her job, and doesn’t worry that other people might not like her. She’s an adult, albeit with a personality that is uniquely suited to annoy the hell out of everyone she dislikes.

Donna Moss comes into her own in later, non-Sorkin seasons (oh god it pains me to say this, but John Wells might be the best thing that ever happened to her) But in that moment, where 15 year old me was pained (angst!) that my favorite on-screen duo was getting torpedoed, I didn’t see that Amy was a much more realistic character than poor, latch-y Donna Moss.

Next you’ll be telling me that the real-life version of Josh Lyman is actually chief of staff. Fools.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Scroll permalink
    December 5, 2008 10:04 pm

    “(oh god it pains me to say this, but John Wells might be the best thing that ever happened to [Donna])”

    I love Sorkin, but God yes — Wells was the best thing that ever happened to the women of The West Wing. They got a chance to change and grow, argue and win, take charge. Sure, the logic behind making CJ chief of staff might be shaky, but who cares when you see this fierce, intelligent woman becoming the second-most powerful person in American politics?

    At least during the Sorkin years we had Amy Gardner, brilliant and abrasive and a die-hard feminist.

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