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The Worst Storyline In The West Wing Season 6

As a heavy writer and storyteller-driven medium, television has produced a large enough number of renowned auteurs over the years — Dick Wolf, Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes, David Simon, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Steven Bochco, Michael Schur, Gene Roddenberry, Damon Lindelof, take your pick.

One of those auteurs is Aaron Sorkin, whose trademark style of sustained verbal sparring and impassioned speechifying has made him one of the English language's most recognizable screenwriters. Many Sorkin fans would argue that his magnum opus is "The West Wing," the idealistic political drama that ran on NBC from 1999 to 2006. From the show's beginning until the end of Season 4, Sorkin was about as hands-on a showrunner as it gets. Per IMDb, he wrote or co-wrote 85 of the first 88 "West Wing" episodes. 

But Sorkin ended up making the decision to leave "The West Wing" in 2003 (via Variety), and, to hear fans tell it, the show was never the same after that. As series star Rob Lowe told The Hollywood Reporter, "But The West Wing, with all due respect to everybody, is Aaron, full stop." 

So, let's take a look at one of the seasons from the show's post-Sorkin slump, Season 6, and ask the question: What is the worst out of all that season's questionable storylines? If fan chatter is anything to go by, there is one clear answer.

Nobody seems to like the Cuba episode

In Season 6's 19th episode, "Ninety Miles Away," U.S. President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is torn between continuing secret talks with a debilitated Fidel Castro and lifting travel sanctions on Cuba or capitulating to mounting public pressure for the sanctions to be upheld. If the concept behind the storyline is itself shaky — does "The West Wing" suddenly take place in the real world? — the flatness and senselessness of its execution make matters even worse. Characters behave randomly, whole scenes amount to nothing, and the episode offers a grand total of zero useful insights into the Cuban immigrant crisis.

It's no wonder that, per a 2019 Reddit thread titled "Worst West Wing Episode?," "Ninety Miles Away" would appear to be a strong people's candidate for that undesirable title. The most upvoted comment on the thread, from u/GenralChaos, simply says, "the crappy cuba one in season 6," which in turn prompted u/jenniekns to reply, "Please don't bring this up. I'll start having flashbacks of bad guitar playing and offensive Spanish accents."

Commenter u/MarsTRP expanded on fans' issues with the episode, writing, "90 Miles Away is like I'm watching a different, much worse, show. Even against the backdrop of the non-Sorkin era, that one stands out as a real stinker. You've got to nose dive pretty hard for me to not enjoy watching John Spencer." There don't appear to be any defenses of "Ninety Miles Away" down thread, either. It's a veritable unanimity.