There’s a clever trick in this teaser for HBO Max’s West Wing reunion special, officially dubbed A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote (because why bother with anything but literal descriptions at this point?), where it’s unclear whether anyone involved is talking about the fictional political drama of the West Wing episode they’re reenacting—season three’s “Hartsfield’s Landing”—or the actual political drama that the special is calling attention to. The low-fi nature of the special, which was filmed on a stage with barebones sets, adds to this feeling, as do the intercut clips of West Wing actors reuniting with each other and having conversations that may or may not be happening in-character, to the point where it’s all almost too clever. Then again, this is a West Wing reunion special tied to a campaign to encourage people to vote in what could be one of the most important elections in many, many years, so creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme deserve their chance to be a little too clever this time.
The special will feature the return of West Wing stars Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, and Dulé Hill, plus Anna Deavere Smith (whose involvement was previously unconfirmed) and Sterling K. Brown (a newcomer to the show who will be filling in for John Spencer as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry). There will also be act breaks featuring guest appearances from Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, President Bill Clinton, and—according to a press release—”more.” A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote will premiere on HBO Max on October 15 (the same night as the next debate, assuming it happens).