In November, the US could have its first female vice president, Kamala Harris. In the final run-up to the election, we look at five exceptional TV series about women in politics, from Veep to The Good Wife.
The run-up to the US election has often felt like an, at times, unbelievable television show. There has been no shortage of storylines. Presidential debates have felt like a boardroom scene from The Apprentice, perhaps not surprising when the actual president is a former host of said show.
Conversations have been secretly recorded and leaked, family skeletons dug up, while generation Z-ers have quietly sabotaged political rallies through their social media accounts and celebrities have gone to war on Twitter over political allegiances. All in the shadow of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations—one of the biggest civil rights movements in history—and the small matter of the pandemic.
But perhaps the dystopian reality of the election race is the perfect time to lose ourselves in the fantasy of a brilliant TV show set in the world of politics. Dramas featuring show-stopping female characters who are a world away from the two men in their seventies currently fighting over the Oval Office. From Gwyneth Paltrow in The Politician to Sidse Babett Knudsen in Borgen, here are five political programs that would all get Vogue’s vote.
1. Veep (2012 to 2019)
Created by Armando Iannucci as an adaptation of his British comedy series The Thick of It, Veep centers around Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the fictional vice president of the US and her team who are stamping on each other to prove their political might, though they’re constantly derailed by petty problems. The show ran for seven seasons, with Louis-Dreyfus clocking up six consecutive Emmy Awards for her performance. Available to buy on Amazon Prime Video.
2. The Politician (2019 to present)
Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan—the creative minds behind Glee, Pose, and Scream Queens—The Politician is a super-stylized romp around the world of Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a rich kid with big political dreams. Though Payton is the central character, his mother Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow), is a consistent scene-stealer, particularly in season two, where we see her casually running for governor of California. The Politician is classic Murphy escapism, obviously influenced by the brilliant 1999 MTV movie Election starring Reese Witherspoon. Murphy has said he thinks there will be a third and final season, but not for a few years yet. Streaming on Netflix.
3. Borgen (2010 to 2013)
Following the story of Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the fictional first female prime minister of Denmark, during the filming of Borgen, the country elected Helle Thorning-Schmidt, its first female head of state. As well as being a brilliantly made and acted show, Borgen feels particularly relevant right now, as conversations are had about how successful female Scandinavian leaders have been in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, including Finland’s Sanna Marin and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen. Netflix has recently acquired the rights to Borgen, and announced that a fourth series will be released in 2022. Streaming on Netflix.
4. The Good Wife (2009 to 2016)
The Good Wife focuses on Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), the wife of a shamed politician played by Chris Noth (also known as Sex and the City’s Big) returning to her law career after her husband has been sent to prison. A corrupt male politician going to jail is a depressingly relatable concept, and Margulies is perfect as the angry, embarrassed, and frustrated wife. There are many narrative arcs across the show’s seven seasons, but the most memorable involve Alicia’s relationship with Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), an ice-cold, hard-as-nails investigator. Two exceptional characters played by two exceptional actors. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
5. Scandal (2012 to 2018)
This American political thriller is the brainchild of Shonda Rhimes, the woman behind Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. Rhimes is a TV genius, and the queen of high-quality, long-running dramas. Scandal ran for 124 episodes, following the life of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a Washington DC-based political crisis management expert. Watching the car crash that is modern real-life American politics, how we wish Olivia Pope was a real person. With seven seasons to watch, Scandal offers up a full week of bingeable lockdown escapism. Available to buy on Amazon Prime Video.
Originally published on Vogue.in