Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Friday, 27 February 2015

Things About Politics That We Learned From The Telly

The Debrief: Filibustering. Amiright guys?

Just like medical students used to watch ER to study up for exams (so the rumour goes anyway), we all owe a whole lot of our political knowledge to the news, nope wait I lie, I mean TV.  With the return of House of Cards today, here's what we've learned from Veep to Parks and Rec, here's what we've learned. Thanks TV!

What a Filibuster is
Although I’m still not entirely sure why the filibuster is a ‘thing’ that’s allowed to happen in American politics, I at least knew what it was by the time Wendy Davis’ magnificent filibustering of epic proportions came around (the senator talked for eleven hours to block a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Texas). In case you're still not sure, a filibuster is when the senate is voting on a bill and one senator who doesn’t want the bill to pass will talk, and talk , and talk, and talk. How did I learn this? Oh, The West Wing of course. Except, instead of Wendy Davis, The West Wing’s filibustering episode featured an elderly senator.

Why the Israelis and the Palestinians can't just 'sort it out'
Apart from being full of problematic characters, a great wardrobe, and an air of deep dark forboding The Honourable Woman was timed (unhappily and coincidentally) with a resurgence of troubles in Gaza and went some way to explaining the what we were seeing on the news every day - especially how complicated the situation had become. The Honourable Woman showed multiple intelligence agencies, multiple splinter groups, high-level corruption and deep rooted sentiment.

Local government is just as important and what Dave and Co are up to
In fact, it’s where the decisions that are going to immediately affect you are made. Take The Casual Vacancy for instance, one meeting of sleepy rural folk in a picturesque church is enough to decide on the future of a hugely beneficial drugs addiction clinic. Something deffos needed in this picturesque town.

Rugged Individualism
No-one but no-one explains the all-American Republican Tea Party concept of rugged-individualism like Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. You know all those people who hate government, think Obamacare is for communists and think vaccines are going to kill their children? Ron is that, personified, but loveable and hilarious. Which makes watching him much more palatable than it should be.

Politicians Can’t Really Have Strong Opinions
Anyone who’s watched Veep was surely horrified by the comments from real life people in Washington DC who said that Arnando Ianucci’s American politics outing is strangely realistic. Every thing, and I mean everything about the jobs of Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Vice President) staff is about figuring out how to make a truly terrible person look great to the press at all times. Pretty much most of the first part of season three is spent figuring out how Selina can take a stance on abortion without actually having to say which side she’s on because God forbid she’d piss off either side.

Personality is all a ruse
Perhaps this might have been obvious if I’d really thought about it but I kind of thought that politicians would, which they didn’t write their own speeches would at least be behind the personal touches in their speeches, like jokes. But nope, check out Toby and Rob Lowe in The West Wing, all up in the jokes and who writes Fitz’s jokes in Scandal? Olivia Pope. That’s who.

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Tags: TV That Matters, Pure Politics