West Wing timeline divergence?

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Ríu ríu chíu, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm curious - at which point in the Presidential line of succession does The West Wing diverge from reality? Who's the last President to be in both timelines?
     
  2. Mele Kalikimaka

    Mele Kalikimaka Be Here. Aloha. Premium Member

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    The timeline diverged when Nixon resigned; from that point on, the West Wing universe has fictional presidents. When the show launched in 1999, Gerald Ford was still alive, so the divergence makes sense: having fictional presidents allows your characters to make potentially critical references to past real-world events that would be mirrored on the show without being directly critical of the real-life men who'd been President at the time.
     
  3. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I just did a bit of google fu and found this:

    http://westwing.wikia.com/wiki/President_of_the_United_States

    It says that the timeline doesn't diverge until after Reagan.

    Or rather during, as in TWW apparently Reagan leaves office two years before he does it in the real world. I don't know how this happened (I have seen precisely one episode of the show and this wasn't it).
     
  4. Mele Kalikimaka

    Mele Kalikimaka Be Here. Aloha. Premium Member

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    They never say.
     
  5. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC, doesn't the series begin with Bartlet's election? And that wasn't an election year IRL so they must have been fudging the dates a bit because of that.
     
  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The pilot episode is actually set about eight or nine months into Jed's first term -- so, in other words, in about September of 1999, which is when it aired in real life. So Jed would have been elected in 1998 and taken office in January 1999.

    Basically, WWverse elections are held in what are in real life the midterms as a result of Nixon.
     
  7. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, now you lost me. :confused:

    Is the Wikia article (that I linked to) wrong? If not, then what does Nixon have to do with Reagan leaving office in the WW_verse two years before he did it in real life?

    (The WW Wikia's article on Reagan himself does not say anything about the latter, either, although it does confirm that Reagan was president at some point in the WW_verse)
     
  8. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    From what's said in this thread...

    Gerald Ford declined to finish off the disgraced Nixon's term.

    The then speaker of the house must of as well.

    Which forced a by-election.

    So the duly elected 38th president (Not Gerald Ford) was sworn in 2 years earlier than Carter had been destined to be, throwing the 4 year cycle off tilt.
     
  9. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I see. So the only confirmed point of divergence is Nixon, and if any other presidents after him were common to both timelines, there's no proof of it? Just vague references, like the Reagan ones I mentioned?
     
  10. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Had a thought.

    What if Gerry didn't decline the Presidency, but instead was implicated.

    Their Watergate could have been a hell of a lot more interesting than our Watergate.
     
  11. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wouldn't trust that link, they seem to just be filling in the gaps we don't know about with real Presidents. I believe the last real President that was confirmed on TWW was JFK, but there are allusions to the Watergate scandal so that suggests Nixon was President. Ford, Carter, and Reagan are never mentioned. Newman and Lassiter are only mentioned in one episode of the fifth season and we don't get much backstory on their Presidencies.

    The most common explanation is that the timeline diverged after Nixon's resignation, with an election held in 1974. How Nixon's resignation led to the creation of the states of Qumar and Equatorial Kundu is anyone's guess. ;)
     
  12. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    I was going to suggest that it was always different because elections were off by two years, but the Nixon resignation as an explanation could work.

    We know Andrew Jackson was President, at least ;)
     
  13. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    It was never explained and all we'll ever have is fan speculation on the subject.

    All we know is that Bartlet's direct predecessors were Lassiter and Newman and presidential elections were held in 1998, 2002 and so on.

    The identity of Newman's predecessor was never canonically established as far as I recall. It could have been Reagan, it could have been Lyndon LaRouche, it could have been another ficitional president we never heard of.
     
  14. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If a US Preident resigns, his successor serves out the end of the term. There are no special elections. As such, Nixon's resignation should not have 'shifted' the election schedule, nor should anything that might have happened to Reagan.
     
  15. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah there is no time when it goes off on it's own, it's always in an AU. I wouldn't worry too much about it because the show plays lose in time and skipped a year.

    However I swear they talked about Reagan in an episode. But in season 5 there was an episode where a president dies and the living ones go to the funeral. So Reagan would have had to be the last one because the feeling is the president before Bartlett left because of Term limits and not because Bartlett beat him.
     
  16. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    I have never seen a complete episode but alternate histories fascinate me. Reagan first tried a Presidental run in 1976. He challenged Ford for the Republican nomination. Perhaps in this history he succeeded and became President early. But lost reelection to a fictional opponent.
     
  17. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC, Sorkin didn't want to reference any presidents after JFK, but Josh mentioned LBJ at one point (though that could have been after Sorkin left, I forget). And the S2 premiere has a Reagan-named building sign clearly visible in the distance, but that was non-intentional. Sorkin also tried not to reference what year it was, but then wrote a discussion about whether 2000 or 2001 is the turn of the millennium.

    The more important question is when in their AU major campaign finance reform was enacted, because those characters sure as hell don't live in our big money-infested scene. :p
     
  18. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Could've been a continuity gaffe, I suppose. I didn't watch the show that often so I'm not at all qualified to discuss this beyond noting the real world legal ramifications, or lack thereof, of a resignation.
     
  19. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They skipped a year magically between season 5 (mid term elections were coming up) and the season 6 season opener which had presidential elections coming up, even though it was the same weekend as last episode.

    We could say that in The West Wing world there was an issue with Nixon resigning. Maybe Ford was never named VP and instead of following the line to the presidency (which is really screwed up by the 25th Amendment) that they instead had a special election.
     
  20. Snaploud

    Snaploud Admiral Admiral

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    That wouldn't be enough to force a by-election. It just would have gone to the next person in the line of succession (the president pro tempore of the Senate).

    Your scenario would only work if U.S. law were different in the West Wing universe.