Mandy Hampton

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Mandy Hampton
The West Wing character
File:Mandy Hampton.jpg
Moira Kelly as Madeline Hampton
First appearance "Pilot"
(episode 1.01)
Last appearance "What Kind of Day Has It Been"
(episode 1.22)
Created by Aaron Sorkin
Portrayed by Moira Kelly
Nickname(s) Mandy
Gender Female
Occupation White House media consultant
(Bartlet administration; season 1)
Title Madeline Hampton, Ph.D.
Nationality American

Dr. Madeline "Mandy" Hampton is a fictional character from the American serial drama The West Wing, portrayed by Moira Kelly. She was White House media consultant during the first season of the show and the former girlfriend of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, with whom she often clashed. A savvy political strategist and no-nonsense negotiator, the character was said to have been based on real-life political media adviser Mandy Grunwald.

One of the character's major subplots involved the public disclosure of a secret memo she wrote criticizing President Josiah Bartlet, which created a public embarrassment for the administration. Although Kelly was a primary cast member during the first season, Mandy was featured infrequently as the episodes progressed, and removed from the series altogether by the end of the first season. Series creator Aaron Sorkin said the character was not working out and the departure was an amicable decision with Kelly.


Mandy Hampton was a political consultant who left high-paying and prestigious public relations firm to work for top politicians in the public sphere.[1] Extremely ambitious,[2] Mandy had a reputation as a savvy political strategist and no-nonsense negotiator.[3] She has a bachelor's degree in art history, a master's degree in communications and a Ph.D. in political science.[4] Mandy starts out the show as an advisor to Democratic Senator Lloyd Russell, a political challenger to President Josiah Bartlet who opposes many of his policies.[5] She was also dating the senator, which angered Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, who used to date her himself.[6] In the second episode, "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc", Mandy ultimately leaves the senator, and stops dating him, when he defies her wishes and tables a bill in committee that she planned to fight vigorously for.[7] As a result, Mandy is hired as a media consultant for Bartlet, much to the chagrin of Josh. In her new capacity, she reports directly to Toby Ziegler, the White House communications director and Josh Lyman, the White House deputy chief of staff.[8]

Before leaving Russell's employment, she writes a memo to him deeply critical of Bartlet's administration. This memo eventually surfaces in the media and becomes a public embarrassment for the Bartlet administration in the episode "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", leading to her being cut out of the policy-making loop for a while until the president ordered his senior staff to let her out of the doghouse.[5] In "The State Dinner", when the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to use force to take down a militia involved a hostage situation, Mandy strongly urges the president to exhaust all peaceful solutions first, despite Josh's advice to the contrary. Mandy argues "the greatest threat to democracy" are not "the nuts" but rather "the unbridled power of the state over its citizens." However, the situation ends poorly when the hostage-takers shoot and critically injure an FBI mediator and the FBI then ends the standoff by force, and Mandy is physically sickened by the events.[1] Mandy Hampton loved to drive fast cars.[3]


It has been said Mandy Hampton was partially inspired by Mandy Grunwald, the Democratic political consultant and media adviser who worked on the presidential campaigns for both Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.[9] Moira Kelly said of her character, "She's a fighter in a difficult business and has a lot of strength."[3]


The character appeared only in the first season, and her appearances became sporadic as the episodes progressed. She departed from the show without plot explanation after the first season ended.[3][10] Series creator Aaron Sorkin said that the character was not working out,[10][11] and the decision for Moira Kelly's departure from the show was amicable:[11]

"Moira is a terrific actress, but we just weren't the right thing for her. She expressed that she felt the same way, and as a result, story lines hadn't been invested in that character, because we knew that at the end of the year, we'd be shaking hands and parting company."

The ensemble-nature of the cast made it further difficult to focus adequately on the character. When the first season finale, "What Kind of Day Has It Been", featured a cliffhanger ending with an unknown character getting shot, many fans speculated it would be Mandy Hampton due to the character's ongoing departure.[11][12] The St. Petersburg Times quoted an unnamed West Wing writer as suggesting that actors with two-year contracts are the most likely to have been shot, which the newspaper said suggests it could be Mandy due to her pending departure. However, the newspaper also suggested that could be a red herring since it was not clear that Mandy was even present in the scene when the shots were fired.[12] The shooting victims ultimately turned out to be Josh Lyman and President Bartlet.[11]

Sorkin originally planned to reintroduce Mandy in the second-season episode "The War at Home", as the campaign operator of junior senator and environmentalist Seth Gilette, played by Ed Begley, Jr.[13] However, the appearance never happened.

The term Mandyville has since been used by fans of The West Wing, referring to a mythical place that characters go to when they disappear without explanation.


Mandy Hampton has been cited in arguments that, particularly in the first season, the series placed its female characters in largely marginalized roles while the male characters occupied most of the powerful positions. They pointed out that even Mandy, who holds a relatively important position as political consultant, departs from the show quickly and is not predominantly featured in major storylines.[9][14] However, authors Peter C. Rollins and John E. O'Connor, who published a book about the series, wrote, "This televised representation may not be so much the result of a conscious or even unconscious bias on the part of the scriptwriters but a reflection of Washington reality."[9] In an article for The Straits Times, writer Richard Feinberg acknowledged most of the important characters in the show are white males, but pointed to "very smart women" characters like Mandy as evidence that the show included a fair mix.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Feinberg, Richard (November 20, 1999). "West Wing: TV's new political realism". The Straits Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Mendoza, Manuel (February 27, 2000). "The Best and the Brightest; Portraying a White House full of good intentions, NBC's 'The West Wing' is idealistic without being naive". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1C.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Challen, Paul (2001). Inside the West Wing: An Unauthorized Look at Television's Smartest Show. Toronto, Ontario: ECW Press. p. 107. ISBN 1-55022-468-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Schlamme, Thomas (September 29, 1999). "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc". The West Wing. Season 1. Episode 2. NBC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rollins, Peter C.; O'Connor, John E. (2003). The West Wing: The American Presidency as Television Drama. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. p. 145. ISBN 0-8156-3031-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Hodges, Ann (September 22, 1999). "Flying high in 'West Wing'". Houston Chronicle. p. B1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Daily TV Best Bets for the Week of Monday, Dec. 27". Scripps Howard News Service. December 22, 1999.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kiesewetter, John (January 26, 2000). "The "acting" White House". The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 1E.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Rollins, p. 52
  10. 10.0 10.1 Pennington, Gail (October 4, 2000). "Hail to "The West Wing"". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. E1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Challen, p. 25
  12. 12.0 12.1 Deggans, Eric (September 10, 2000). "Popular politics". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1F.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Owen, Rob (January 13, 2001). "'West Wing' creator vetoed a Bush cameo". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 10, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Fahy, Thomas Richard (2005). Considering Aaron Sorkin: Essays on the Politics, Poetics, and Sleight of Hand in Films and Television Series. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 186. ISBN 0-7864-2120-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>