The West Wing is and was a political drama created and produced by Aaron Sorkin. It centered around a fictional Democratic Presidential administration led by President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, a former governor from New Hampshire portrayed by Martin Sheen.
The series ran for seven years on NBC, from 1999 to 2006, and was widely distributed in syndication. Repeat episodes still air daily on weekdays on the cable TV network Bravo
Six actors were credited as regulars in all 7 seasons: Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, and Dule Hill. Janel Moloney joined the cast as a regular in the second season, and had several guest appearances in the first. Stockard Channing joined as a regular in the third season, with guest appearances in seasons one and two. Series regular Rob Lowe left the series in the fourth season, but returned for two guest appearances in season seven. Joshua Malina became a regular in season four. Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda became series regulars in seasons six and seven. Mary McCormack and Kristin Chenoweth also became regulars in season six.
A number of other actors also had repeated guest appearances throughout all seven seasons, but none of them were ever listed as regulars. Moira Kelly was a regular cast member in season one, but her character disappeared from the show after the first season and no explanation was ever given for her departure. An inside joke among TV shows with characters who suffered similar fates is that they went to "Mandyville" (Mandy was Kelly's character on the show).
The show won nine Emmy awards in its first season, and over its entire seven year run was nominated for dozens and won 26. The show also won 2 Golden Globe awards.
The West Wing universe exists totally outside the "real world", even to the extent that Presidential elections are held in what would normally be mid-term years in the real world. No real world presidential administration is acknowledged after President Lyndon B. Johnson's. Despite this separation, a number of episodes referenced real-life issues and incidents. The show was sometimes called "The Left Wing" by conservative critics for its often liberal treatment of real-life political, economic, and social issues.