Given the press attention given to representatives who share group houses in Washington, I’m actually sort of shocked that no one’s greenlit a movie or television show along those lines. Until now: Arianna Huffington*, seizing yet another obvious opportunity, has sold a show based on a group of lawmakers rooming together to ABC.
This is the second political show ABC’s investing in. The first, Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, which I’d describe as Revenge set in Washington, premieres this spring, and from the episodes I’ve seen, is soapy and dramatic and, despite its inaccuracies, really fun. Given that Greg Malins, who’s the executive producer for How I Met Your Mother, is working with Huffington on this, I’d expect that this show will be a little less over the top, though he is saying things like, “There is no better time to do a show about Washington,” Malinssaid. “It’s such a dynamic place right now, it’s the coolest placein the universe,” and apparently of the three main characters, “One is swept up in the movement of change and goes to D.C. to make a difference; one has been in politics for a long time; and one is a master of the media and sound bites.”
While these are cliches, I think the set-up has the potential to do something important: look at legislators as people. Ideology and policy are important, and I certainly spend a lot of my time complaining about shows that are afraid to name lawmakers’ political parties, or that focus on rhetoric instead of substance. But being a legislator is a deeply weird thing. You’re away from your family and the people you represent for a lot of the time. You live a deeply managed existence, one in which there’s always more information than you can possibly consume and process in a reasonable way coming at you. This is not a good setup to produce sane, balanced people, much less sane, balanced legislation, and that’s worth examining. Plus, Washington is full of super-wacky people who would make for a great sitcom. If one of these lawmakers ends up being based on Barney Frank, I will be so happy.
*I keep forgetting her ex-husband Michael is a movie producer. I saw Save the Date, which his company put out, at Sundance. Review to come.