Political dramas entertain us as well an inform us. They create interest in what goes on in Washington, thereby drawing citizens into the seemingly chaotic and amorphous nature of federal politics in America. Over the course of television’s history, there are three political series which stand head and shoulders above all others, for a multitude of reasons. Their characters are larger than life; their conflicts have enormous consequences; their storytelling is enthralling and unforgettable. Here are the 3 best television shows that deal with politics, along with one of the best spoiler-free moments of the series.
3. The West Wing
“The West Wing” has a cult following—while some decry it as “fan fiction for reality,” creator Aaron Sorkin has already found more success with his new drama, “The Newsroom.” What Made “The West Wing” such a popular show was its moral convictions: President Josiah Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, won the hearts of many liberals (as well as those who have more centrist points of view) because he embraced a love of social justice which categorized him as a president who truly believed in honest and forthright commitments to the American people as a whole.
Best Moment: Dr. Jacobs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD52OlkKfNs)
President Bartlett demolishes the arguments of radio host Dr. Jacobs, who seeks to use ancient biblical verses to advance her anti-gay agenda.
2. House of Cards
What makes “House of Cards” such a special show is that it embellishes the action of Washington, acting as if the “quid pro quo” finessing of politicians is the norm. Especially in today’s political climate, where the trust in Congress is so abysmally low, a show like this will find an extremely receptive audience. Although the true dealings of our elected officials are far from how they are portrayed in this show, the dog-eat-dog nature of the Washington world shines through in its dramatization.
Best Moment: Check, check, check (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXmjBAFjQ-I)
Francis Underwood gives the viewers an introduction into his world; he speaks to the camera as he informs viewers of his expert political maneuverings which have landed him in a position to be named as a senior cabinet member.
1. The Wire
“The Wire” is widely acknowledged as the greatest television show of all time. What makes it so well-appreciated is how real it is. Created by Baltimore ex-cop David Simon, the show takes place in that city, focusing on both the poverty of the inner city as well as the police who are tasked with keeping it safe. No other show can come close to making viewers understand why a young child might embrace drug dealing instead of school, or why a police officer might avoid going the extra mile to help people who need it.
Best moment: Chess game — WARNING: explicit language (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0mxz2-AQ64)
This explanation of chess from season 1 is a metaphor for one of the major themes of “The Wire.” Any institution has different people in different roles; the pawns get the short end of the stick, and they know it. The king gets his way, but he has to keep his subordinates happy. Whether one is a police officer or a member of a drug dealing gang, the rules of chess apply.
— Jake Simon