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5 political-themed movies and shows to watch this election season
As the U.S. accelerates full-speed ahead toward its next presidential election, everyone seems to have differing opinions about the major issues. One thing all Americans can agree on, however, is that the country's political system has served as a backdrop for some truly amazing films and shows. From period dramas to romantic comedies, Washington, D.C., has set the stage for a range of beloved movies.
Prepare for the fall by sporting your best red, white and blue and by checking out these five political programs from Amazon or the iTunes store.
1. The American President (1995)
This film, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, focuses on fictional president Andrew Shepherd, played by Michael Douglas. Shepherd meets lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade, portrayed by Annette Bening, after she moves to Washington, D.C. to fight for environmental justice. The movie follows the pair's comedic, bureaucratic romance while also highlighting their individual legislative efforts, painting a well-rounded picture of life in the political sphere.
The American President is part rom-com and part presidential drama, making it a decidedly bipartisan choice. And because much of the movie was filmed on location in Washington, D.C., it feels like an authentic ode to the capital city.
2. Backstairs at the White House (1979)
For a slightly different perspective on the political scene, check out Backstairs at the White House, a miniseries based on the memoir of a mother and daughter who worked at the White House from the Taft presidency to the Eisenhower administration. According to the White House Museum:
"We see each first family in private moments, almost exclusively in the west end of the second floor. It's like every presidential anecdote from the period brought to life—Taft's tub, Wilson's wives, Harding's scandals, Coolidge's terseness (although we don't get the "you lose" anecdote), Hoover's aloofness, Roosevelt's relaxedness, Truman's familiarity, and Ike's regimentation—and everybody's thriftiness."
3. The West Wing (1999-2006)
Another of Aaron Sorkin presidential productions, The West Wing ran for seven seasons on NBC. It told the story of fictional democratic president Josiah Bartlet and his administration staff. Because the show spans so many years, it became a critically acclaimed look into the federal government's day-to-day workings.
Much of the series takes place in its titular location, the White House's west wing. While the show's layout of the wing has drawn some criticism from political insiders for its logistical inaccuracies, the program is generally considered an authentic peek at the inner workings of a presidency.
4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
For something a little less serious, but still infused with American politics, consider watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This 1939 classic stars Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith, a Boy Scout leader who is elected to the U.S. Senate after a coin flip lands in his favor. Optimistic Smith soon discovers that his new colleagues are extraordinarily corrupt and decides to do something about it.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was a box office hit after its release in 1939, and its message still holds up today. The film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry in 1989 for its cultural significance.
5. My Date With the President's Daughter (1998)
Dating as a teenager is never easy, but it's even harder when you're being constantly chaperoned by the Secret Service. My Date With the President's Daughter takes a silly look at what happens when presidential offspring sneaks away for a night of unforgettable fun.
The Disney film focuses on teenager Duncan Fletcher, who is desperately seeking a last-minute date to a dance. After meeting a girl named Hallie at the mall, he thinks he's found the perfect dance partner - that is, until he arrives at her address, and realizes she lives at the White House. What happens next is a wild, slapstick ride fueled by youthful independence.
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