The Politics You Watch For Fun
By Sophie Lanier
These days, keeping up with politics can feel like a full-time job, leaving us exhausted and worried about the future of the country. While staying informed and active is super important, it’s also important to give yourself a break every so often. TV shows which satirize American politics or present an alternate version help me keep a hopeful mindset and laugh a little bit when real life politics seems too much, and I hope they’ll help you too!
Parks and Recreation
It seems that Parks and Recreation has become a mainstream staple of popular TV, almost on par with The Office in “number of Tinder users mentioning in bio.” Nevertheless, it’s a genuinely good show for anyone looking for a laugh. Who wouldn’t be charmed by Leslie Knope’s unshakeable idealism and attempts to improve lives through the power of parks? This show gives a hilarious satirical view of local government, which is unique in a playing field of mostly TV shows about the executive branch.
If you’re hoping to forget about the dark sides of politics and throw on some rose-colored glasses for a while, Veep may not be the best choice. However, if you enjoy dark political humor, exaggerated reality, and satire, then you might love this irreverent show. Most of the characters are often plainly unlikeable, but this can only make it better! Also: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a real-life political queen when she’s not in character on Veep.
This may make me a bad political science major, but I’ll say it: I’ve only seen 4 of the 7 seasons of West Wing, and I watched those seasons several years ago. However, I’m including it on this list because I still remember how earnest, charming, and funny this show is. It’s often hailed as the best TV show about American politics, and for good reason: it presents a somewhat realistic alternative reality, while reminding its viewers that hope and idealism are powerful forces!
Saturday Night Live
This show has everything: smart critiques of many of the political moments we’ve seen lately, performances by your favorite musical artists, and accurate spoofs of what it’s like to be a progressive right now. Many have argued that SNL has gotten better since the Trump administration began, but maybe that’s just because much of their material is pretty much written for them by government officials at this point.
House of Cards
Season 6 of this show was recently released – and with Kevin Spacey out of the picture, Robin Wright’s character Claire Underwood is now the first female president of the US. But am I rooting for Claire? Probably not! Like the former President Underwood, Claire is scheming and tricky, so much so that the audience never really knows her aims. This show is very dark, bringing up big questions about corruption and power in politics. It can sometimes be confusing and hard to keep up with, but that’s worth it for the big conspiracy-like plots and dramatic direct-to-viewer moments.
It’s likely the next few years will continue to present a dark and difficult political landscape - but since the midterm elections, there is a newfound (if slight) sense of hope in politics! Keep these political TV shows in mind for when you need a little break from reality and to keep that sense of hope alive.