The coronavirus outbreak means that everyone is sheltered-in-place with plenty of time to watch TV. And because it’s an election year, there’s no better genre to watch than political shows.
The United States has produced many great political TV shows, including made-for-TV movies, mini-series and some long-running series, including comedy, to satire, and drama.
Here are Newsmax’s picks for the best 10.
No. 10: “Political Animals” was a 2012 mini-series produced by the USA network, and its plot had a familiar ring to it. It starred Sigourney Weaver as former first lady Elaine Barrish, who subsequently runs for the White House and loses -- only to be chosen to serve as the new president’s secretary of state.
Reviewer Joyce Slayton wrote that Weaver’s “magnetism makes scenes like the one where she tells a Russian official she's going to serve his ‘tiny, shriveled (bleep)’ in a bowl of borscht for goosing her behind. In fact, Weaver is so compelling that voters may wish she could be a write-in for the next election.”
No. 9: “Commander In Chief” was a 2005-2006 ABC dramatic series that starred Geena Davis as Vice President Mackenzie Allen, who unexpectedly moves into the White House when the president dies from a brain aneurysm.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the series a score of 82% and said, “Though ‘Commander in Chief’ is not always committed to reality, its empowering female-centered narrative is opportune, and made even better by Geena Davis' excellent performance.”
No. 8: “Spin City” was an ABC sitcom that ran from 1996 to 2002 and starred Michael J. Fox as Mike Flaherty, the deputy mayor of New York City. Fox left the series in 2000 due to medical issues and Charlie Sheen took over for the final two seasons as Charlie Crawford.
But “no matter who was in charge of the mayor's office, ‘Spin City’ abounded with witty repartee and sexually tinged innuendo,” wrote reviewer Melissa Camacho. “It's a clever sitcom sure to appeal to adults and older teens, but it's not for kids.”
No. 7: “Tanner ’88” was an 11-episode HBO political mockumentary written by Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau. Michael Murphy portrays 1988 presidential candidate Jack Tanner. It made use of well-known figures of the day that included Bob Dole, Gary Hart, Gloria Steinem, Ralph Nader and Pat Robertson, each playing themselves.
The series enjoyed critical review, and the director, Robert Altman won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for the episode "The Boiler Room." Pamela Reed won an ACE Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series playing the role of T.J. Cavanaugh, Tanner’s campaign manager.
No. 6: “Scandal” was an ABC political thriller TV series that ran from 2012 to 2018. It starred Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who opened a Washington, D.C. crisis-management firm. It’s based on real-life crisis manager Judy Smith, who formerly worked in the George H.W. Bush White House.
The series won numerous Emmys and TV Guide Awards.
No. 5: “Parks and Recreation” was an NBC satirical political sitcom that ran from 2009 to 2015, depicting small town politics. Amy Poehler portrayed the plucky, eternally optimistic Leslie Knope at the Pawnee Town Hall.
Although she’s but one member of an ensemble cast, “it's Poehler who owns the show, and she proves instantly she's got the comic intelligence to carry a series like this one,” wrote Daniel Carlson for The Hollywood Reporter. “She's awkward but not alienating, and she's eager without being repelling. Most of all, there's a genuine heart to her that gives the comedy a balance and lets it be mocking without resorting to cruelty. It's funny, smart and fast. I hope it sticks around.”
No. 4: “Veep” debuted in 2012 on HBO and follows the misadventures of Selina Meyer, a fictional United States vice president portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (formerly of “Seinfeld” fame).
Rebecca Nicholson described “Veep” as “masterful comedy packed with the darkest of zingers” in her review for The Guardian.
“As can sometimes be the way with ‘Veep,’ I greatly admire its speed, wit and vicious eye for the sheer ridiculousness of the many awful situations it presents,” Nicholson wrote, adding, "and am simultaneously just a little bit relieved when each episode is over."
No. 3: “John Adams,” an HBO miniseries released in 2006, depicts the founding of the United States through the eyes of its second president. Based on a best-selling David McCullough biography, it stars Paul Giamatti in the title role. It depicts Adams’ political life beginning with the Boston Massacre and ending with the deaths of Adams and Thomas Jefferson 56 years later.
Barry Garron, writing for Reuters, called “John Adams” a “masterpiece.”
He wrote that “this handsome miniseries is praiseworthy on many levels — as history, as entertainment and as a way to bring to life for new generations a sense of the sacrifice and heroism needed to establish the U.S.”
No. 2: “House of Cards” was a Netflix series that ran five years from 2013 to 2018. The shady dealings of Congressman Frank Underwood, portrayed by Kevin Spacey, seem almost tame by today’s standards in Washington, D.C. politics, but it earned 33 Emmy nominations during its run.
Wrote Paste Magazine, the series was “occasionally ridiculous, occasionally overblown, but always, always always intriguing.” But it was dealt a death blow when Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct and was fired from the cast as a result.
No. 1: “The West Wing” originally ran on NBC for seven seasons, 1999 to 2006. Its depiction of the goings-on in the White House featured an ensemble cast led by Martin Sheen, who portrayed the fictional President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet. "The West Wing" was the recipient of two Peabody Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and 26 Primetime Emmy Awards.
“This one set the bar for all political TV shows that came afterward,” according to The Wrap. “Aaron Sorkin's famously idealistic series about the inner workings of the White House introduced Americans to ‘the guy the guy counts on,’ as the show once said.”
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.