What does Kristin Gore have to do with Scandal, West Wing and House of Cards?

in Potpourri by

What is it about political television shows that make them so compulsively watchable? Is it the thrill of imagining world leaders as real people, the consistently ambiguous moral codes or all those amazing power suits? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know one thing: give me a drama about the White House and I cannot look away.

For me, this obsession started around Scandal’s second season, when I got to watch the President of the United States make out with Olivia Pope in a closet. There’s something very sexy about a powerful man getting reduced to jelly by an equally powerful woman. Luckily, there are tons of bingeworthy political dramas out there. Here are three of the best (plus one book!):

Scandal

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Did I mention the closet make out? It bears repeating, trust me. This show might have gotten a little convoluted recently, but the first two seasons are still dramatic gold. Not only does Olivia get it on with President Fitz, but she’s also the best “fixer” in all of Washington, DC. Basically, big-wig politicians come to her with their problems and she makes them go away. The moral gray areas are always shifting, the good guys struggle to hold onto their white hats, and, yes, Olivia is having an ongoing affair with the president. There’s not much to dislike about this zippy, addictive Shonda Rhimes drama.

The West Wing

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While not new, The West Wing is the quintessential political drama. The characters are real and fully flushed out, the Aaron Sorkin dialogue is snappy and smart, and the storylines carry real weight. In a nutshell, the show focused on Democratic President Josiah Bartlet and his administration. But that simple statement doesn’t really capture the complicated characters, interwoven relationships, and cutthroat personalities that were necessary to lead the country through two terms in office. Probably the most realistic of all the political dramas, this one definitely deserves a bingewatch.

House of Cards

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Every time a new season of this show is released on Netflix, I don’t see any of my loved ones for three days. Seriously, it’s like everyone I know disappears into their couches for one massive bingewatch. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time: Season Three just came out in late February. The show follows the husband-and-wife team of Frank and Claire Underwood as they negotiate and scheme their way through Washington. It’s a study in manipulation and power, and neither of these two should be underestimated or challenged. House of Cards takes power struggles and that moral gray area to a whole other level.

Sammy’s Hill by Kristen Gore

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Written by Vice President Al Gore’s daughter, Sammy’s Hill offers an inside look behind the scenes of the political world. Sammy Joyce is a health-care policy advisor to a senator from Ohio. She’s also hilarious, neurotic, and not very good at keeping her private life private. The book follows her through her adventures in D.C., including a new speechwriting boyfriend and Blackberry exchanges that border on inappropriate. When her boss becomes the Democratic candidate for vice president, her personal and work lives start heating up. If you like the scandals of Scandal and the genuine emotions of The West Wing, then try Sammy’s Hill.

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.