An Ode to Governmental Escapism Through Political Dramas

When I was six, I spent every day after school waiting for the 6 o’clock national news. I looked forward to the fluorescent glow of the tv and its light washing over the dim kitchen. I would perch myself on the edge of the couch, my math homework precariously balancing on my knees as the intro melody reverberated. And, perhaps, my intense fascination with the news and (subsequent) growing interest in governmental policy is why my dad thought I might like West Wing

The West Wing, written and produced by Aaron Sorkin, is a fictional political drama that follows several presidential advisors whose personal lives become entangled with their professional obligations. The show examines how the idealizations of West Wing staffers conflict with the political realities of D.C. To say West Wing became my favorite show would be a gross understatement. I found comfort in it when I was sick, quoted lines when I needed advice, and talked about plot points with my dad. 

retro TV Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

Of course, that was years ago. Since then I have become engrossed in more contemporary shows like Madam Secretary and less realistic shows like Designated Survivor. More importantly, I have maintained my passion for consuming news; I’m constantly trying to stay informed by reading articles from reputable sources and catching a glimpse of the evening news when I can. 

In an election season as important as this one, there is an undeniable advantage to staying informed. Simultaneously, the overwhelming spectacle of the 24-hour news cycle can be devastating. And, recently, I have sought reprieve from that onslaught of emotion by watching the political dramas that I have always admired. 

There is something so comforting about these unrealistic shows. Sure, the predictable plot lines are a source of repose, but it’s more than that. In an election cycle where there is an intense level of urgency and exigency to act it’s a relief to be a spectator - to watch other politicians follow through on their promises. These fictional politicians embody the integrity, passion, and empathy that all legislators should have and uphold. 

Woman in White Bed Holding Remote Control While Eating Popcorn Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

Perhaps, that exact sentiment is what ultimately motivates me to become more politically involved. Yes, this paradox inherently allows me to be a political bystander by reminding me why I should be politically active but I think that’s the point. Often we forget the importance of voting and what it means to be a stakeholder in a democracy. I owe it to the fictional shows and characters that have brought me immense comfort (and escapism) to bring the “good” aspects of government into the real world. Mindless television can produce mindful action!