Dramatic, comedic: politics’ place on TV

Politically-focused shows change way viewers think about government

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Starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, "House of Cards" dramatizes the innermost workings of high-level government.

Courtesy Netflix

Some of the best shows on television are political dramas and comedies. With the 2016 presidential election heating up, shows currently on the air have plenty of material to glean from ongoing real-life antics. Political television dramas use their artistic medium to tackle many issues that have been hotly debated in real life, such as gay marriage, civil rights, sexual assault and corruption. Political comedies poke fun at much of the ridiculousness of the political landscape, whether it is an outrageous personality or policy, which can help shape the way we think about politics. Here are some of the best political television shows, from dramas to comedies.

“Scandal” (ABC)

Created by Shonda Rhimes, this show follows Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her elite crisis management team, known as “fixers,” as they handle various scandals involving high profile people. The show has brought up many popular issues in society, as Pope and her team have dealt with tough situations between politicians and amongst themselves over the past few seasons. Pope is also the president’s mistress, which at times puts both her and the White House in danger. “Scandal” has a wide array of characters, with a group of very strong female leads — from the powerful black female Pope, to openly gay Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene, to the firm, at times callous, and calculating First Lady Mellie Grant. A very well-written show, Rhimes’s “Scandal” is now in its fifth season.

“House of Cards” (Netflix)

“House of Cards” is one of Netflix’s best original television shows. The cast of fantastic actors, led by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, and the amazing writing are simply dripping with drama. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a true Byronic hero — he’s fascinating. As the first three seasons chart his way to the presidency, viewers see him lie, cheat, steal and kill to get what he wants. He plays dirty, and he always plays to win. Every move he and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) make can seem evil or even grotesque, but they exemplify political corruption in the most intense way, even occasionally facing it from opponents. What better way to get people thinking about political corruption than to show fictional — although quite realistic — examples of it? Watching the show is quite a fun ride, and the fourth season is coming to Netflix next month.

“Veep” (HBO)

“Veep” is a political comedy series following the life of fictional Vice President Selina Meyer. The show is absolutely hilarious and the cast, led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is phenomenal. Viewers never know what Meyer is going to say, which makes for some great entertainment as she navigates the political landscape with her staff. There’s something quite comforting in the show, considering the vice president makes awkward mistakes just like normal people do. The fifth season premieres this April.

“Parks & Recreation” (NBC)

Also known as “Parks & Rec,” this show is one of the best written comedies to air on television. The show, led by Amy Poehler and another stellar cast, is quirky, awkward and affectionate in all the right ways. Arguably the most popular show to ever deal solely with local government, “Parks & Rec” took a rather overlooked section of local government and made people actually think about its importance. The show quite humorously tackles the concept of bureaucracy and how it directly affects citizens in the small, fictional town of Pawnee, Ind. The show concluded last year but is still absolutely worth watching.

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