13 Times Josh & Donna On 'The West Wing' Were The Best Office Romance On TV
The concept of 'shipping television characters has really blown up in the past couple of years, but my heart will always be with Josh and Donna on The West Wing. It was a "will they or won't they" that took a backseat to political storylines without feeling forced — as tragic as it is, I fully believe that it took these two characters over seven years to get it together. At the beginning of the series, Josh Lyman was the Deputy Chief of Staff and Donna Moss was his assistant. Not only is their banter killer, but they have one of the best office romances of all time because their chemistry comes from a place of mutual respect and ridicule. They've rushed to each other's hospital beds and been through trauma together. She understands him in ways that nobody else ever will, and vice versa.
Full disclosure: This is an unpopular opinion, but I am a fan of the non-Aaron Sorkin seasons of The West Wing (for the most part) and this 'ship is a big reason why I champion them (for the most part). One of the best things that happened, character-wise, was getting Donna out of Josh's office. Once her career evolved, their relationship was allowed to grow. I'm pleased that Donna wasn't Josh's assistant when they finally hooked up, because that could have gotten real problematic real fast. While it wasn't a creepy Mad Men scenario between boss and secretary, the lines that blur between Josh's dependency on Donna, her ability to read and anticipate his needs, and their feelings for one another would have been a PR nightmare. However, it ultimately just makes their happy ending sweet.
And these 13 moments absolutely seal the deal:
1. When Donna Created Her Own Job
The West Wing isn't a perfect show when it comes to female characters, but I've always envied the way Donna just walked into Josh's campaign office and started working as his assistant without being hired, and then demanded the job when she got caught.
2. When Josh Bought Donna Flowers
...to be mean. This clip is from the end of the episode ("if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights" — BE STILL MY HEART) but their whole story in "17 People" is one of the best things about them. These two won't admit their feelings for one another for about another four years, but they're already fighting about their work anniversary. For one brief period, Donna quit her job to move back in with her boyfriend, and therefore Josh buys her flowers on the date she returned for good rather than the date she actually started to hold that against her. It's so petty and I love it.
3. When Josh Was The Good Cop
"I know women. I know what they like." OK, Joshua. That's him inviting Donna to a ball in the above GIF, by the way. So romantic.
4. When They Finally Kissed
These ridiculous workaholic nerds. Is anyone surprised that it took presidential poll numbers to get them to smooch? Flashback to me and my Mom actually jumping up and down when this happened.
5. When Donna Learned Josh Was Shot
If you weren't convinced that these characters were more than "work spouses," this sealed it.
6. When Their Jealousy Is Mutual
Both Josh and Donna had other relationships during the many years they worked together. The way this affected their working dynamic was varied, but noticeable.
7. When Donna Was Unimpressed
It's such a sweet, honest moment, and much more touching than a gift from your boss should be... but it wasn't on Donna's wish list!
8. When Everyone Called Them Out
Over the years, many characters have questioned their relationship including CJ, Josh's then girlfriend Amy, and even Lucious Malfoy. Yes, Jason Isaacs had a key guest star appearance as Donna's foreign suitor. That's the thing about office romances — the same intense environment that brought you together makes it impossible to hide from others.
9. When Donna Was Too Subtle
They're the worst. Most of the best moments between Josh and Donna are the ones where they are painfully subtle about their feelings. However, I suppose with the fast-paced and super stressful work environment they have, subtle flirting might be all they have time for during the day.
10. When They Were Normal Coworkers
Yeah, fat chance.
11. When They Showed Some Growth
It's one of the heartbreaking moments, but I'm convinced it was the right move in the long run. If Josh had hired Donna as his deputy in Season 7, they would have fallen right back into old, and unhealthy, patterns.
12. When They Dropped The Subtlety
If there's one thing The West Wing taught me about election season, it's that the campaign trail is rife with staffer hook-ups.
13. When They Became Co-Chiefs of Staff
And went on a well-needed vacation together. At the end of the series, Josh and Donna finally made it official and worked out of the President and First Lady's offices, respectfully. They were still coworkers, but Josh was no longer Donna's boss. A perfect ending! Don't think about how Josh dated Amy (played by Mary Louise Parker and another one of my favorite characters) when she was the First Lady's Chief of Staff. Don't give it another thought.