Tele-Tuesday: Politics – Drama and Comedy

This weekend, I watched the pilot episode of USA’s new miniseries, Political Animals.  The word “politics” is a double-edged sword for me; I know that as an adult, understanding the politics of our respective countries is important, but mostly it does nothing more than frustrate me.  Maybe the networks recognize that politics upsets many viewers, thus the insane amount of police procedurals and medical dramas and lack of political series on the boob tube currently.  When I think TV and politics today, only one show comes to mind—Scandal—and its more drama than politics.

Until now.

If not evident from my earlier summer posts, I love the USA Network.  And when I saw the previews for the new miniseries, Political Animals, and saw the star-studded cast, I knew that I’d have to give it a try.  Now, I didn’t watch it live; I don’t really watch any TV live, unless it’s a sporting event.  But I did add the new drama to my DVR queue and watched it seven days after its original air date.

So what is Political Animals?  Let’s start with this question: who does everyone think of when we say former First Lady and current Secretary of State?  Did everyone answer Sigourney Weaver?

Secretary of State Elaine Barrish (with son Douglas in the background)

In the new six-part miniseries, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a recently divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State fighting to keep her family and her insane position in the U.S. government intact.  I think we all know who this sounds like, but let me add that Ms. Weaver herself has stated on talk shows that she is not playing Secretary Clinton.  Plus, the Barrish family is not the Clinton family, nor is it any one particular former President’s family.  Instead, the creators took bits and pieces from many different White House families, as well as created a fictional component, and the Barrish clan was born.

The USA network is known for its characters and Political Animals is no different.  Elaine Barrish is a strong, female lead.  She graduated first at her law school and received a ten-minute standing ovation after her commencement speech.  Despite her husband’s adulterous ways, she stood by her man throughout his political career (including his path from Governor to President of the United States).  And, most importantly, she more than challenged the Democratic male candidate throughout the presidential primary race before graciously stepping down.

Following her concession, Elaine asked her husband for a divorce.  It wasn’t until her separation from the former President that her popularity really soared with the American public, and the President-elect recognized this.  Secretary Barrish stated in the pilot episode that she did not want to be the country’s senior-most official dealing in foreign policies, but when the President of the United States calls for you, you answer.

Strengths aside, Elaine Barrish also has her flaws and weaknesses.  When in a stressful situation, the Secretary lights up a cigarette.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a character light up on screen.  In the “olden” days, characters smoked on television all of the time—but not today.  Additionally, despite her divorcing the former President, Elaine still has the rare tendency to run back to him when the going gets tough.  Sometimes a person needs the familiar warmth of a loved one, former or current—it’s a human response.

Secretary Barrish with Susan Berg (Reporter) – Will these rivals become the closest of friends?

In addition to Ms. Weaver, Political Animals also stars: Carla Gugino, a reporter who hasn’t been kind to the Secretary over the years; Ciaran Hinds, the former President and the Secretary’s ex-husband; Adrian Pasdar, the current President; Dylan Baker, the current Vice President; James Wolk, the Secretary’s son and Chief of Staff; Sebastian Stan, the Secretary’s other son and first openly homosexual child in the White House; and Ellen Burstyn, the Secretary’s mother.  Now that’s a cast!

Besides the cast and characters, the series also has drama.

From a political standpoint, the Secretary works feverishly to save three American journalists falsely imprisoned and convicted in Iran as spies.  As if the scandal wasn’t enough, she learns that the President and his sleazy Chief of Staff have known about the Iranian government’s requests and tried to handle it on their own, without giving into the demands of the Iranian President.  Keep in mind, I have only watched the first episode…

From a personal standpoint, the Secretary’s family is not-so-perfect either.  We all know her husband has flaws—her main reason for divorcing him was his many years of infidelity and his ego.  The Secretary’s one son, played by James Wolk, seems perfect—he’s clean cut, extremely intelligent, and engaged to a beautiful woman.  His fiancé also seems perfect, but she is secretly battling her own demons with bulimia and her infuriation with her future husband’s loyalty to his mother.  And the Secretary’s other son, played by the adorable Sebastian Stan, attempted suicide a year earlier and the family covered it up—or so they thought.  Anyone in politics should know nothing is sacred, not even the near death of a child—not to the media anyway.  Additionally, he is addicted to drugs.  He’s been to AA and has a sponsor, but the recent refusal of his parents to fork over the cash for him to open a restaurant/bar, and the national coverage of his suicide attempt, has pushed him over the edge.

Along with the drama, Political Animals also has moments of pure comedic genius.  Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds) and Margaret Barrish (Ellen Burstyn) have some of the funniest lines on TV.  I watched this episode with my parents, and even my father asked which network we were watching—not because we’re prudes, we’re Texans and language does not offend us—but because the dialogue was definitely unusual considering television sensors today.

And speaking of dialogue, here is my favorite line from the pilot:

“Bitches don’t like to be called bitches. Us bitches don’t like that.”
~Elaine Barrish to Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) AND Susan Berg to her boyfriend’s mistress/blogger at The Globe.

I also really enjoyed it when the Secretary told her husband’s Secret Service Agents that if she was going to kill Bud (her ex-husband), she would have done it years ago.  I don’t remember the exact quote, so I’m paraphrasing, but I think everyone will understand and appreciate it just the same.  This line was quite funny when used in the context of the scene.

Secretary Barrish – will she be the next President of the United States?

Lastly, I want to mention one final aspect of the story that I truly appreciate—the attempt at bi-partisanship.  Despite the Secretary’s obvious affiliation to the Democratic Party (her husband was a Democratic President; she ran for President in the Democratic primary; and her dogs are named Teddy, Bobby, and Jack), she and her sons constantly reference Elaine Barrish’s love of elephants.  C’mon, we all know what the Republican Party’s symbol is… the elephant.

So considering the network, the casting, the characters, the drama, the comedy, the dialogue, and the attempt at bi-partisanship, I can’t wait to check back in for the remaining five episodes.  I’m kind of sad this is only a miniseries…

What do you think?  Have you watched Political Animals?  Do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

Tele-Tuesday: Summer Chaos, Part Two

Last Tuesday, I listed all of the TV shows that I try to watch each night in Summer Chaos, Part One.  I attempted to pick only one or two shows per night, but in some instances I couldn’t walk away without selecting at least three.

And even with these programs watched and erased from our DVR, it’s still full.  One might ask, how is this even possible right now?  Despite it not being the typical television season of September through May, we still find ourselves recording more than a few programs per night.  Plus, during the summer months, we are busier than usual.  Not only do we find ways to deal with the heat, like making frequent trips to the pool and water parks, but we also gather up the troops and travel to fun and sunny destinations.  All of these activities pull us outside and take us away from our televisions.  For our household, this leaves our DVR queue full.

So, in addition to last week’s list, today I’m going to share our left-over bucket that we cram into our weekend viewing.

Here’s to everything else… the rest of our must-see summer television series.


Rizzoli & Isles

C’mon, it’s Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander!!  Angie plays Jane… just one of the guys, solving crimes, but with much prettier hair.  And Sasha plays Maura… a medical examiner who examines bodies and performs autopsies in stilettos.  And lets not forget about the humor…


Our favorite team of cons…because last week I already stated Neal Caffrey is my favorite individual con…  Nate may lead the team, but I personally don’t think Leverage would quite be the same without the supporting cast of Parker (the thief), Hardison (the hacker), and Eliot (the muscle).

Covert Affairs

Sometimes her spy abilities prove to be a bit frustrating, but Annie Walker is with a new team this year—with more freedom.  Maybe this will open up the romantic door with Auggie a little?  We hope so!  We need more Auggie…


So far I’m really enjoying this new generation of Ewings… they’re especially fun to look at!  Christopher or John Ross?  Elena or Rebecca?  It’s a tough decision…

Men at Work

How I Met Your Mother meets Sex and the City…  Men at Work‘s season ended last week, so that’s one less show for us to watch.  But let me just say, it was fun—it was great to see dating from a guy’s perspective—and I can’t wait for the 2013 season.    Yes, it was picked up…

The Glades

A&E is really stepping it up with its original programming…  As one can probably tell from my list last week and this week, I love police procedurals.  But Jim Longworth takes his detective skills to an entirely different level.  Not only is he adorable, but his character is seriously flawed and he walks to the beat of his own drum, ignoring everyone and everything he’s told.  But don’t worry; although the character is a bit of a rebel, he’s not annoying.

Hell’s Kitchen

This season’s group of chefs may be the most dysfunctional ever!  But it doesn’t matter!  I still want to eat at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant… and I’m going to order the scallops, risotto, and Beef Wellington!

Lost Girl

There’s a little bit of Fae (supernatural) sexiness for everyone… men and women!  As a woman, I can honestly say that Bo and her succubus abilities are pretty hot.  My guy’s not here to defend himself, but I think he’d agree—he’s always suggesting we watch Lost Girl on the DVR.  And Dyson?  If someone doesn’t know what I mean simply by saying his name, check out an episode and find out for yourself!

And speaking of SyFy, two more of the network’s summer hits start at the end of the month…



Do you watch any of these shows?  Which summer show/s do you absolutely have to find the time to watch?  I’d love to hear from you…

Remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

Tele-Tuesday: Summer Chaos, Part One

During the summer months, we are busier than usual.  Not only do we find ways to deal with the heat, like making frequent trips to the pool and water parks, but we also gather up the troops and travel to fun and sunny destinations.  All of these activities pull us outside and take us away from our televisions.  For our household, this leaves our DVR queue full.

One might ask, how in the world can your DVR queue be full right now?  Despite it not being the typical television season of September through May, we still find ourselves recording at least a few programs per night.  Most of the shows we are currently recording come courtesy of TNT and USA, but there are also a few others…

So, for the sake of today’s post, I’m going to share my absolute must see series in a special summer edition of a Pick or Two Per Night… okay, maybe three in some instances.



True Blood

This picture is missing the hotness of Alcide, but I think everyone gets the point.

But where I say True Blood, my guy would argue Falling Skies

And I must admit, the sci-fi hit about aliens invading our planet is growing on me.

And before we go to bed, we take a quick hit of Weeds

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun…



The Closer

I started this series late and then went back and caught up courtesy of Netflix.  Having watched every single episode, I must say that I am VERY pleased The Closer is bringing back “the one” that got away… will Brenda Leigh finally find the evidence to arrest Stroh in these final six episodes?

Then, we end the night with an hour of Teen Wolf

Everyone knows there are werewolves in this series, but without giving too much away, I just want to add that I love the addition of the lizard-like thing this year.  Plus the battle between Scott’s “army” and Derek’s “army” only adds to this TV with bite.  Who will win?  Probably Scott, but as long as Derek gets lots of screen time, we’re all good!



White Collar

Neal Caffrey is hands-down my favorite con-man on TV…

Plus, I always have to find time to sneak in my teen mystery fave… Pretty Little Liars

And enough time for a quick set of laughs… and sometimes gore…



Necessary Roughness

You know… because it has football. 🙂

And then we go back a day and watch Tuesday night’s Franklin & Bash

They may be unconventional, but they are totally lawyers!



Burn Notice

I watch for Michael Westen; but I honestly love Sam, Maddie, Jesse, and Fi just as much… My guy can’t get enough of Sam Axe (he’s a big Evil Dead fan).

Followed immediately by Suits

Even though this would NEVER happen in “real” life… someone without a law degree working as an associate at a major law firm… when the managing partner knows his secret… but it’s great TV!



Common Law

Wes and Travis are really growing on me, especially when they role play…. and my guy laughs his rear off in every episode.


Late Friday night and continuing through Sunday, we cram a lot more into our weekend television viewing.  Come back next week to see just how insanely long that list is… trust me, it’s long.

And in addition to the list of shows above that are or will soon be on my DVR queue, perhaps my favorite summer obsession starts this Thursday…

Big Brother airs one-hour episodes Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights on CBS, PLUS three hours of unedited and live footage every night of the week on Showtime.

Let the good times begin!

Do you watch any of these shows?  Which summer show/s do you absolutely have to find the time to watch?  I’d love to hear from you…

%d bloggers like this: