Paul and Shirley Attryde drove from Durham, N.C., to Washington this spring for a live taping of “The West Wing Weekly,” a podcast about a TV series that ended 12 years ago. They stood on the Lincoln Theatre stairs before the show, watching audience members line up to meet hosts Hrishikesh Hirway and Josh Malina, who spend about an hour every week analyzing a single episode.
The Attrydes, both in their 40s, are apolitical, but still — these days, rewatching a show about idealistic wonks working for a Nobel Prize-winning economist president is “a little slice of heaven,” said Paul, wearing a gray “West Wing Weekly” sweatshirt. “It’s the president we all want but don’t have.”
“When you see so much partisanship and so much anger and hatred of politics right now,” Shirley added, “it’s refreshing to remember that maybe there are people behind the scenes that really are trying their best to work for the greater good.”
On the podcast, Hirway brings a fan’s passion and a critic’s rigor, while Malina, who played deputy communications director Will Bailey on “The West Wing,” is the comic relief. At the Lincoln Theatre, Malina trades insults with fellow former cast member (and frequent guest) Bradley Whitford as longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain chimes in with a real-world perspective.
“This is the closest I’m getting to the actual West Wing until 2021,” Klain said to audience cheers.
“The West Wing Weekly’s” guests have included Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and it sold out its five-city tour, from Boston to Dublin. Its popularity — an average of 1.3 million downloads a month — indicates just how much the NBC series still resonates, especially for those on the leftward side of the political spectrum.
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