5 Lessons On Politics From Fictional Political TV Shows

By Lisa Crocco

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If you watch fictional political television shows, like “House of Cards”, “The West Wing”, “Veep”, and “Game of Thrones” then you most likely have noticed how they are inspired by real world politics. These shows are a great indication of what happens in government and how one must become and then remain a successful political leader. Here are five common themes:

Keep your enemies close–In “House of Cards,” Senate Majority Whip Francis Underwood seeks revenge on all those who have betrayed him. In order to get ahead he must continue to be friends with his enemies who are fellow party leaders and pretend to respect them. Even in “Game of Thrones” we see the seven noble families fighting to gain power. The surest way to gain that power is to keep those you want to take down right where you can see them.

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Be nice to your secretaries–Secretaries know all and see all so you better make sure to treat them well and tell them how much you appreciate them. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman’s secretary Donna Moss in “The West Wing,” has been with him since the start of his career working for the president.   Throughout the show we see the White House secretaries putting in countless hours to ensure everything is running smoothly without getting a great deal of recognition. Just remember that behind every put together politician is his/her secretary.   Even in satirical political comedy “Veep”, we see Vice President Selina Meyer’s secretary Gary Walsh helping her out every step of the way, even in times when they are not filming the show.

Do your research–The best and strongest arguments are the ones heavily backed up by facts. In “The West Wing” we see President Bartlet and Deputy White House Communication Director Sam Seaborn constantly throw out fact after fact when arguing with other people. And the majority of the time they win their arguments because they do their research in advance. Doing your research and learning the ins and outs of the pieces of legislation that you are attempting to pass will pay off in the end and almost always account for a victory.

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Make friends with the media–The ability to sway journalists and bloggers to get them to cover your pitch and cover it positively is a key skill. Francis Underwood in “House of Cards” works with “Washington Herald” journalist Zoe Barnes to leak factual information out to the public. By doing this he becomes powerful enough to take down those who have crossed him in his quest for revenge.

Politics is about the people–The basis of all of these fictional political shows is how the politicians interact with and represent their constituents. Without the approval and support of the people the politicians would not have been elected to begin with. It’s important that they constantly meet the expectations of the public. In “Veep,” Vice President Meyer constantly explains how politics is about people. That line seems to be her go-to when giving speeches and talking to the media, which shows her constituents that she appears to care about them throughout her term.

When you get the chance, be sure to curl up and watch marathons of these shows and see the common themes and lessons that they are attempting to teach viewers about real world politics.

Please feel free to share any comments, questions or concerns you may have!


photo (1)Lisa Crocco is a senior public relations and political science double major at Illinois State University. Despite her hectic schedule of blogging, interning, and compulsive list-making, she find time to nap, read, and quote Gilmore Girls habitually.

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