Pop Politics: What should you watch?

As a proponent of the intersections between pop culture and politics, I would like to introduce a new segment called “Pop Politics”. Every Friday afternoon I will suggest what you should binge on over these long winter weekends. There is so much awesome material to stream across Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant, and I am here to help you find it! This Friday is Presidential Losers weekend. We all know about the winners from our history books and news, but the losers are where you  find the interesting stuff. Here are three films definitely binge-worthy on a snowy Sunday afternoon.


(2014)- Netflix

Now I know what you’re thinking: a documentary on Mitt Romney, are you kidding me? But seriously, it’s really good. A couple weeks ago I  decided to finally watch this movie, which had been lost in my Netflix queue since it was released a year ago. I went into it fully expecting a Sunday hate watch, yet was delightfully surprised by how much I enjoyed this documentary. The film starts in 2007, right before the Iowa Caucus, continues through the 2008 primaries, and picks back up from the 2011 Republican primaries through the 2012 election. Director Greg Whiteley tells an incredibly human story of Mitt, business man turned politician, just trying to live up to the legacy of his father, George Romney. Regardless of your political leanings, watching Romney interact with his family, especially his wife, puts the 2008 Republican nominee in a new light. In the wake of Mitt Romney officially declaring he will not run in 2016, this is a great film to learn about the man that desperately wanted (wants?) to be president.


Game Change (2012)- Amazon Prime Instant

Sarah Palin’s incessant presence in the political arena is becoming burdensome. But what if she had to be your running mate? HBO’s political drama Game Change is not the best film, however I will watch anything with Julianne Moore and her portrayal of Sarah Palin is spot on. The first time I saw this movie I was expecting an over the top Tina Fey-like impression of Sarah Palin — the “I can see Russia from my house” SNL caricature. That is not Moore’s portrayal in Game Change, which is good thing. She gives complexity and depth to Palin that definitely goes beyond Fey’s caricature. Game Change, based on the book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, is the story of Republican strategist Steve Schmidt (played by Woody Harrelson), who is forced to make an incredibly unprepared and underqualified person a viable candidate for Vice President of the United States. Watching Schmidt’s character struggle to not only to convince John McCain (played by Ed Harris) but also the American people that Palin is worthy of their votes is by far the most interesting aspect of the film. It is a great dichotomy to the inspirational stories of Obama campaign staffers. Game Change tells of the fatalistic side of running a political campaign.


Recount (2008)- Amazon Prime Instant

I was twelve during the 2000 Presidential race. I definitely followed it, but more because I liked to color maps and not because I thought some injustice had happened in Florida. I turned thirteen the day President Bush took office for his first term and grew up grew up during his presidency. Maybe if I was a little older at the time I would have paid more attention to what happened in Florida and subsequently the Supreme Court. But to be honest, it got lost in history for me. I came across Recount in 2009 because some friends in college had HBO at their apartment. Obviously, it is a fictionalized account of what happened but it made me think: this one instance in US history that, if it had gone differently, could have changed my entire adolescence. Recount follows former Gore chief of staff Ron Klain (played by Kevin Spacey) as he attempts to resolve the voting issues in Florida. The film gives equal screen time to the Bush and Gore campaigns, but the film definitely leans toward the Gore campaign and their fight to make sure every Florida vote is counted. Regardless of political bias, Recount is a great way to learn about an incident in U.S. history that most Millennials have just accepted as is. If you were going to watch this HBO political drama for one reason only, it should definitely be for Laura Dern’s portrayal of the perpetually tacky former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.