The West Wing – 17 People
I love this episode. It’s probably my favorite episode of the series. Everything about it is perfect, not just the shippy goodness. So it’s going to be kind of difficult for me to just focus on the Josh/Donna stuff without mentioning the amazing tension of the storyline where Toby finally learns about the President’s MS. But I’m going to try.
I think season 2 is the best season for Josh/Donna shipping. By the time we got to 17 People, over a season and half had passed, so we’d seen an excellent and completely natural development of this relationship. But it was still only the second season, not so far into the series where you’re getting frustrated because OH MY GOD IT’S BEEN YEARS WHY HAVEN’T THEY KISSED YET. The UST was at its most perfect point.
In 17 People we got both the snark and the sweetness of the J/D ship. They’re arguing for most of the episode over the date of their anniversary. Donna insists it’s when she first started working for him. Josh thinks that it should be the second time she started working for him – after she had quit, gone home to her boyfriend, and then come back – because that was the one that stuck. It’s a great argument because you know that it’s not the fact that Donna left that really made Josh upset. It was that she left to go back to her boyfriend.
And it’s fun to watch Josh and Donna banter. That really was what made their relationship. He was her boss, but she was still really smart and could argue just as well as he could. They were, in that respect, on equal footing.
Throughout the series Josh and Donna had a lot of moments where they just almost confessed to their feelings. They always seemed like they were just about to say it, and the famous ‘red lights’ comment is probably the best. It’s moments like that where we see how deeply dedicated that are to each other. You know that if Donna had known Josh had been shot before she got to the hospital, she wouldn’t have stopped for a single red light on her way there. Just like Josh was useless at his job after the bombing in Gaza because all he could think about was being with Donna.
And, since it’s still shippy, I’ll give a little shout out to our B-team ship of the episode, Sam and Ainsley. Really, looking back, all of Sam’s ships were disappointing because nothing ever came of them. I liked Sam and Mallory a lot, but that just kind of petered out, and nothing ever came of Sam and Ainsley. But they were a good match. I really think Ainsley was just the Republican female version of Sam. They were both smart, both incredibly well spoken with an excellent handle on the English language, and both awkward and neurotic. This is a great episode for them. Like Josh and Donna, they can both give as good as they get when it comes to arguing politics, and they both have excellent points on the Equal Rights Amendment. That and the chemistry between Rob Lowe and Emily Procter make they’re little B-story delightful.