'The West Wing's Best Episode, Documented By One Fan's Extensive (& Brilliant) Infographic
This year marks The West Wing 's 15th anniversary, and while many may choose to celebrate that fact by reliving our favorite liberal fantasia on Netflix, Seattle resident and visual designer Jon White decided to go one step — or, maybe a few hundred — further. Despite professing to Vox that he's not a huge West Wing fan per se, White nonetheless harbors a particular reverence for "17 People," the 18th episode of Season 2, in which Toby makes a discovery about President Bartlet that's responsible for shaping the entire season, if not the series, to come. So, what did he do about it? Why, he created the website "Seventeen People," a lengthy, detailed infographic charting out the episode's dramatic arcs, political context, you name it — a project it took him a year and a half to complete. AKA, a West Wing superfan's wet dream.
Also, for those of us Special Features junkies out there (I mean, really, who hasn't watched Aaron Sorkin's commentary track on the Season 3 finale at least five times, amirite?), White even posted a Flickr account detailing his process, from early notebook sketches to the last lines of coding.
But the best part of this gloriously obsessive tribute is, White manages to brilliantly dissect an episode that is predicated upon the consequences of a dramatic reveal without giving away the crucial spoiler. Not once does he indicate what Vice President Hoynes's clandestine camping trip hinted at, what Toby finally put together in all his ball-bouncing, what might get President Bartlet impeached. What White does indicate, though, is each of the many types of food Ainsley Hayes eats in this episode, because, yes.
Overall, in the canon of intense Sorkin analysis, White's "Seventeen People" ranks pretty high up, I think — just shy of that list of all direct crossover plotlines between Sports Night and The West Wing , or the "Sorkinisms" supercut, below. Personally, I'd love to see a lengthy analysis of the Freudian significance behind the number of times his characters use some variant of the phrase "shove it up your ass." (Hint: It's often.) But for now, I'll just have to be content with White's diagram of the exact velocity and angle at which Toby's rubber ball hits the wall.
Guys, the Internet is a beautiful place.
Image: Jon White/Flickr