Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a big West Wing fan.
When Trudeau dropped by this week’s installment of Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway’s The West Wing Weekly podcast, which focused on season 3’s “Dead Irish Writers,” he opened about how the show influenced both him and his team.
“We all watched The West Wing. We all have this connection with the fact that politics can be built around ideals and values and principles and being positive in pulling people together,” said Trudeau. “That’s certainly colored my approach, and you can look back — it’s not just The West Wing — at those moments where Kennedy or Lincoln or Wilfrid Laurier in Canada and others where people were really being brought together. There are moments like that. There are ebbs and flows in our political lives and we all got to draw on that one.”
He continued, “The generation 10 years ago who will have had their introduction to politics through House of Cards or Veep might be a slightly different color, but we were all in a certain sense colored having watched The West Wing while we were thinking about how we wanted to have an impact on the world in our lives.”
Trudeau added that he doesn’t watch Veep or House of Cards, which are more caustic than Aaron Sorkin’s show, because he doesn’t watch as much TV as he used to and that while he thinks Kevin Spacey is “absolutely brilliant,” House of Cards‘ version of Washington, D.C. is “just darker than I need to spend an hour with now and then.” Malina quickly followed up with a question about his feelings on the current Washington.
“There’s a mix of things there,” Trudeau began. “The current Washington has a connection with people and the real anger that’s out there and the real frustration that maybe West Wing watchers didn’t pay enough attention to over the past years, and I think that’s a lesson for everyone about getting involved and not sitting back and taking the political world for granted.”
During his appearance on the show, Trudeau revealed President Bartlet is his favorite character on the show and pointed out the main difference between their jobs.
“The job and the role that I have is so much anchored on staying connected with regular people, having real conversations, and not getting wrapped up or even glorifying the insider nature of the political universe,” said Trudeau, who admitted that he does relate to some of the struggles Bartlet experienced. “I studied Latin for four years and struggled through a very Catholic upbringing and a strong classical education. His struggles with God, with Mrs. Landingham’s death, even the moral struggles that go on in ‘Dead Irish Writers’ between Abbey’s career and his responsibilities and the nature of his job, are things that mirrored very much in my own life and my reflections on how to support Sophie as she continues to do amazing work as an advocate for women and girls and mental health and fighting eating disorders and all sorts of things. There’s a lot of trickiness in a modern family life within politics.”