EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'The West Wing' newbie recap: Wait, the president has more daughters?

Season 2 | Episode 15 | “Ellie” | Aired Feb. 21, 2001

Another West Wing episode, another political debate from 2001 that’s still raging in 2015. This one unfolds during an online chat with Surgeon General Millicent Griffith that looks like it’s happening in the world’s oldest Reddit AMA.

In it, Griffith is asked her opinion on decriminalizing marijuana, and she answers that it’s no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco—effectively reversing the White House’s position. Toby demands to know why Josh didn’t stop the interview.

“I’m not going to belay into the computer screen,” Josh responds.

They decide that C.J. will publicly support Griffith, while Josh will get her to resign. But Griffith refuses, meaning the president is going to have to fire her. Naturally, Josh leaves his office just in time to hear C.J. tell the press corps that the president will not fire the surgeon general.

In your weekly “Donna and Josh debate a controversial public policy topic, which allows Aaron Sorkin to sound off on said controversial public policy topic,” Donna argues that there’s no good reason to keep pot illegal. Thanks, Donnasorkin Moss!

The second crisis brewing is an ad placed by the Family Values Leadership Counsel praising the president for denouncing the movie Prince of New York, which is full of sex, violence, and religious imagery. The movie’s producer then appears on Don Imus’ show to call the president a pro-censorship coward.

In fact, Charlie screened the movie as an option to be shown in the White House later in the week, but he decided that the erotic film wasn’t Bartlet’s kind of thing, so he arranged for Dial M for Murder to be shown instead. (For the record, Hitchcock gets Mrs. Landingham’s seal of approval, and she prefers that Charlie not say “erotic” in the Oval, which seems reasonable.)

Mrs. Landingham brings down the Landinghammer on The West Wing

A frustrated Bartlet laments that his staff somehow won him favor with a Christian group and the Cheech and Chong fan club in the same week. But things get worse when the president’s middle daughter, Ellie, goes on record with Danny Concannon (miss you, Danny!) to say that the president would never fire the surgeon general.

Wait, are there more Bartlet daughters? I guess I knew he was a grandfather, but … there are more daughters??

In the Oval, Charlie makes awkward small talk with Ellie about medical school while they wait for the president. We hear him yelling as he comes down the hall.

Once he’s with Ellie, he sarcastically thanks her for coordinating the wording and timing of her comments with White House staff. He keeps poking and poking at her until she explodes, yelling that Griffith was doing exactly what she was supposed to do, which is to respond honestly to a question about public health.

Bartlet accuses her of giving the statement to make him unhappy. Nothing new there, she says; only Zoey and Liz make him happy. It’s downright frigid as she storms out of his office, and I’ve got to say, it’s weird to see Bartlet fail so hard at something.

The controversial film producer meets with Sam to complain about censorship, but Sam puts him in his place: The controversy is winning him far more business than it’s costing him. Plus, the situation is an argument for the First Amendment. “See? It works! You don’t need to ban movies like Prince of New York; you just have to choose not to watch them.” Then Sam warns him to stop bashing the president.

After the confrontation, Toby comes by and, in that quiet Toby way of his, tells Sam he did good job. Awww! Toby’s compliments are the best of all the West Wing staff.

That night, the White House employees are gathered to watch Dial M for Murder, and partway through, the president gets called out to meet Griffith, who reluctantly hands him her resignation. She says her firing sends a dangerous message to her replacement and argues yet again that she just told the truth to a question that was asked.

President Bartlet does not accept the surgeon general

Bartlet interrupts to ask if she put Ellie up to it, and oh, snap, she’s Ellie’s godmother! I’ve just written an entire backstory for her in my head in which she and a young Abbey Bartlet were roommates in college and went through medical school together and briefly dated the same guy but didn’t know about it until they started comparing notes and first they were angry at each other but that shifted to being angry at him and they got revenge on him via an elaborate plot that unfolded in the middle of a swanky restaurant, so naturally when the Bartlets had their second daughter, Millie was who Abbey wanted as the godmother.


The president takes a beat, then asks Griffith, “Why haven’t I ever been able to get her to like me?”

She tells him that Ellie worships him, but “you frighten her,” she says. “You’ve been the king of whatever room you walked into her entire life.”

He says he wanted to be so mad at Eliie for saying he wouldn’t fire Griffith, but actually, it’s the nicest thing she’s ever said about him.

When Griffith starts to leave, the president tells her he doesn’t accept her resignation: “You go when I tell you to.”

He returns to the movie and tells Josh to tell C.J. that when she gives her support to the surgeon general next time, she should actually mean it. Josh warns him that it’s going to sound like he did it because his daughter asked him to.

“There are worse things,” Bartlet says.

He returns to his seat and starts teasing Ellie about medical specialties and bets her her tuition money that nobody in the room is going to shush him. Then he tells her, “The only thing you ever had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day.”

Ellie gets a little weepy, and the episode ends with them side by side, watching the movie.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like