The Politician's Alice Charles on Netflix

What to Watch When You're in the Mood for Political Drama

It’s easy to avoid politics under the assumption that it’s too complex a subject, or it requires too much effort to actually pay attention to. No matter how frustrating or layered political conversations can feel, it requires your attention, especially if there are issues in your own life that leave you unsatisfied (hello, student debt). When you think about it, even the most monumental movements began with a whisper, and that's proof that certain ideas have to start small in order to gain traction — especially for those of us that might not vibe with election topics and a stressful news cycle.

"Starting small" could translate to something as simple as getting inspired in front of your television screen, whether that means educating yourself about an event in history, or watching a rage-y feminist drama. Here is a curated list of six shows and movies that will provide you with the political fuel you need to get motivated.

  1. 1. Milk (2008)

    Milk is a biographical film about gay rights activist and politician, Harvey Milk, who is portrayed by actor Sean Penn. This compelling film depicts Harvey Milk’s difficult journey as he struggles to become elected to public office as the first openly gay man to serve on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. The gay and trans movement has been propelled forward by so many admirable individuals like Harvey Milk, and this film will help you to consider how the movement itself has been transformed. There is such a need for diverse perspectives at the forefront, especially when new policies that affect LGBTQ+ people. 

  2. 2. On the Basis of Sex (2018)

    Everyone’s familiar with the Notorious R.B.G, otherwise known as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and fervent women’s rights advocate. While most people are familiar with her outstanding dedication to eliminating gender discrimination, On the Basis of Sex tells her origin story as a struggling mother and attorney, who faces adversity in her fight for acknowledgment. 

  3. 3. Selma (2014)

    Selma 2014 movie directed by Ava DuVernay

    Based on real struggles that took place during the Civil Rights Movment, Selma, is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his battle against segregation. Played by David Oyelowo, this film highlights all the hurdles that African Americans faced during the Jim Crow era, forcing M.L.K to take the initiative to create a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Speaking out in the face of adversity creates leaders and Selma is an exemplary film that displays that.

  4. 4. The Politician (2019)

    The Politician on Netflix

    The Politician follows a wealthy high school student Payton Hobart, whose only dreams include becoming the president of the United States and getting accepted into Harvard University. Before he can accomplish either of these things, Payton has to become the student body president at Saint Sebastian High School. Although is seems easy enough, Payton is faced with greed, an eye-opening scandal, and lower level high school corruption. 

  5. 5. The Butler (2013)

    forest whitaker the butler movie

    The Butler tells the story of Cecil Graines, played by Forest Whitaker, who is an African American man that gets a prestigious position as one of the president's staff as a butler. The film spans over the course of three decades, depicting how racism continued to cripple America's development. 

  6. 6. The Handmaid’s Tale (2017)

    The Handmaid's Tale

    This well-known Hulu series based on the novel by Margaret Atwood tells the fictional story of a totalitarian society set in the U.S. Women were formerly citizens before their society spiraled into Gilead, forcing them to be reduced to objects for reproductive ability. Many of the events that take place paint a dark picture of how reproductive rights in America are regarded, as they are ultimately up to the decisions of men.