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must-see dvd tv: the west wing, gilmore girls  by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
continued from page 1

While there's political and personal drama aplenty, The West Wing also offers heaps of funny as well. The characters don't really chat like normal folks; they banter, tossing witty lines left and right at lightning-quick speed. Though it's not terribly realistic, it adds to the characters' charm; everyone's so clever and amusing and snarkily fun you kind of wish you worked in the West Wing too. In fact, maybe the biggest appeal of the show is the fine line it treads between utter fantasy and real life. The writers cleverly incorporate actual current political issues into the storylines to ground it firmly in the real world -- thus allowing us to pretend that a President as noble and benevolent as Jed Bartlet actually could exist. No, Bartlet's not perfect, occasionally making rash, naive decisions based on little more than a gut emotional reaction, as in an episode where he wants to bomb the bejesus out of Syria because he's pissed off that his personal doctor was shot down in an airplane by Syrian-sponsored terrorists. And much to his consternation, he often has to compromise his personal beliefs for the sake of ensuring a second term. But he's genuinely motivated by serving the people rather than feeding his own sense of power, as are the members of his staff -- something that the cynical among us tend not to see when we read about the goings-on of our nation's actual leaders. But as has been often-noted, we cynics are really just disappointed idealists at heart -- and maybe the thing that makes The West Wing most irresistible is that it lets us indulge our inner optimists, knowing that in this world, at least, we won't be let down.

gilmore girls
buy The First Season

I'm always a little embarrassed to admit how much I love Gilmore Girls. It's on the WB, for god's sake, a network not traditionally known for offering smart television fare or anything else that might conceivably be of value to the post-teen crowd. And then there's that dopey alliterative title. Liking Gilmore Girls just makes me feel like such a girly-girl -- not that there's anything wrong with that… it's just not me. But here's where I stop calling it a guilty pleasure and just admit it: I really like this show, and I think it's pretty darn good too.

Set in Stars Hollow, a quaint little Connecticut town where everyone knows everyone else's business, the Gilmore girls are thirty-two-old Lorelai [Lauren Graham], sassy manager of the local historic inn, and her bookish sixteen-year-old daughter, Rory [Alexis Bledel]. Lorelai and Rory look more like sisters than mother-and-daughter; do the math and you'll soon realize that Lorelai had Rory when she was just sixteen, the same age Rory happens to be now. After she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, a rebellious teenaged Lorelai said good-bye to her very wealthy, very stuffy, thoroughly domineering parents, then moved to Stars Hollow to raise her child on her own. 

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