The West Wing: 10 Greatest Ever Moments

9. Cartographers For Social Equality - Somebody's Going To Emergency, Somebody's Going To Jail

The West Wing Feckless Thug

Up until this point, I can safely say that I had absolutely no idea that there were any issues whatsoever surrounding the improper design and usage of maps. However, during one of Leo’s legendary “Big Block of Cheese Days”, CJ is booked in to meet with the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality whose goal is to highlight the inherent inaccuracies found in the commonly used Mercator Projection Map.

It appears that this projection distorts the relative size of the Northern Hemisphere nations to give them unfair prominence. The group is instead pushing for a switch to the more realistic Peters Projection and they come packing some nifty looking slides and an undeniably compelling argument.

This scene not only provides a fascinating insight into a little known geographic quirk, but is also superbly mined for laughs as an increasingly confused CJ gets progressively more agitated at the fact that nothing is actually where she thinks it is. The show was frequently able to combine great humour with informative insight, and this might just be that traits greatest example. It also offered a perfect opportunity for the great Allison Janney to show off her impeccable comedy timing.

Once you've seen this episode, it's impossible to trust a Mercator Projection Map ever again.


A freelance TV and Film writer based in Manchester.