Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have probably noticed we are in an election year. I don’t care if you vote republican, democrat, independent or don’t even vote at all, I am simply curious if you partake in pretend politics on television.
Lately, because real politics is so polarizing and painful, I’ve been pondering all the shows that have featured faux politicians holding offices great and small, over the years.
At the moment, my favorite, by a landslide, is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (and I would vote for Amy Poehler for any office!) It satirizes small-time city government with the greatest of ease and I just love it.
Certainly, there have been many shows focused on political life in my lifetime, many of them very successful, many rather dramatic and some very silly.
When I was little, I used to watch an ABC show called “Benson,” on which Robert Guillaume played the head of household affairs for a scatterbrained, widowed governor. It was light, kid-friendly and frankly, the whole political thing was lost on me. The show also featured a young Jerry Seinfeld, a decade before he would star in his own “show about nothing.”
Come to think of it, NBC’s “Seinfeld” also featured funny storylines about politics, including an episode featuring Rudy Giuliani and non-fat yogurt. Mr. Giuliani, playing himself, was running for mayor of New York City when the episode was shot and won the election just two days before it aired on NBC (Thursday’s Must See TV, of course).
Later, I was a huge fan of ABC’s “Spin City,” starring Michael J. Fox as the Deputy Mayor to the inept, but lovable, Mayor of New York City. It featured a terrific cast and made me laugh out loud. It had some success and even launched Charlie Sheen’s first comeback when he stepped in for Fox towards the end of the show’s run.
It appears my leanings when it comes to politics on television are comedic. I never really gave shows like NBC’s “The West Wing” and ABC’s “Commander in Chief” a chance, though they achieved both critical and commercial success in their time (West Wing was on for more years).
There are, of course, countless other programs with political undertones, not to mention big-screen projects that have tackled politics in both serious and comedic fashion. I guess as a political nation, we are bound to find entertainment in politics.
And, we will have more faux political fodder coming soon (Spring of 2013 or sooner depending on how the Fall shows perform) to NBC. Look for “1600 Penn,” which was created by and co-stars “Book Of Mormon” Broadway star Josh Gad. NBC has ordered 13 episodes of the comedy series. So no matter what happens in the real election… there will be a new First Family… on your TV at least.
Also catch “Veep” on HBO, which currently airs on Sunday nights, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld” fame. The comedy series is scripted, but shot in an improvisational style (sounds kind of like politics itself!) I kid.
Until Next Time…
Seinfeld Reference: http://seinfeld.wikia.com/wiki/Rudy_Giuliani