The 2016 election cycle has seen a lot of interesting moments. From Donald Trump's total lack of accountability and spreading of lies to Hillary Clinton's testifying in a court for 11 hours for her involvement in the 2013 Benghazi situation, we're living through unprecedented times. For years now, we've also seen politics slip into pop culture, whether it involves Saturday Night Live spoofing candidates or TV shows that depict outrageous small-town government like Parks and Recreation, there have certainly been plenty of TV moments that were relevant to this election directly.
While pop culture often mirrors real life, or draws from real life events, it's certainly chilling to see past TV moments represent present-day politics. Focusing solely on Clinton and Trump at this point in the race, as the first presidential debate finished on Monday, there's still a lot of examples of real life falling into line with predictions made by TV. Now that some shows are off the air, like Parks and Recreation and The Office, (and Veep on break) it's interesting to go through the similarities to the characters and situations to today's politics. Let's go through some of the most permanent examples of TV characters behaving like present-day politicians.
Leslie Knope Running Against Bobby Newport
In Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope is the hardworking, experienced public official who is determined to make a difference in her town of Pawnee. Bobby Newport is a son of a rich candy mogul. He clearly hasn't prepared for the responsibility of running a town, just like Trump has not prepared to run the country. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Trump once said, "I've given up a tremendous amount to run for president. I gave up two more seasons of Celebrity Apprentice." Sounds like something not too far off from Newport's own privileged rhetoric on the show.
When Trump Talked About The Size Of His Hands
On Netflix's House Of Cards, it's easy to see that there is a little bit of a parallel between Frank Underwood's confidence and Trump's constantly proclaiming that he is the best and he is going to win everything for America. However, another character on the show also showed an aspect of Trump's character. Underwood's opponent, Will Conway, fires off a joke to Underwood about the size of his, um, assets. Much like when Trump made a comment at a Republican debate implying that he is well endowed, the unbelievable crassness is hard to ignore.
Bobby Newport Making Things Up As He Goes
During the Pawnee election, Newport made outrageous claims that had no base in reality. Kind of like Trump, with his constant lying about many things, including the success of his business ventures. Newport's claim during one episode that there will be a fully functional mall on Jupiter are reminiscent of Trump's claims of constant winning once he becomes president. Trump's insistence on "winning" things like the economy and security are very worrisome, especially because of how vague they are, and the total lack of explanation of how he's going to make it happen. Much like Newport, Trump is all talk and no action or plan.
When The Options Weren't That Great
The 20-season long show premiered Sept. 15 with an episode about two candidates nicknamed Turd Sandwich and Giant Douche, bringing back memories of the early South Park seasons. During the episode, it looked like Douche was going to win the election, and he was completely unprepared. As Vanity Fair noted, an episode called "Douche and Turd" also aired right before the election in 2004 between George W. Bush and John Kerry.
When Clinton Pulled A Jim Halpert
Not exactly a painful example, but considering the context that during The Office, Halpert would look directly into the camera when he was reacting to something ridiculous his boss, Michael Scott, or his coworker Dwight Schrute said. In this case, it's Trump going off on a tangent and making little sense, and Clinton is there to remind us all that he is a fraud.
Leslie Knope Facing Off Against MRAs
During the Pawnee election, Knope is criticized by the Men's Rights Activists. It's similar to the heat that Clinton faces from the group, as well as comments she receives about her clothing and demeanor. When anchors tell Clinton she should smile more, it's reminiscent of Knope's interactions with the MRAs, who get upset on the show when Leslie has her husband, Ben, enter the customary Pie-Mary, where the candidates wives typically have a competition to bake the best pie. It's ridiculous on the show, and it's ridiculous in real life when people joke about whether Bill will decorate the White House should his wife be elected.
Hollis Doyle As Donald Trump
In Shonda Rhimes' Scandal, a business tycoon, Hollis Doyle, runs for president. Like Trump, Doyle is rude, sexist, and a character running as the Republican nominee. Actress Kerry Washington told The Huffington Post that it's interesting to see similar events happening when people talk about how over the top the show can be at times, saying "For season after season people have talked about how big the plots are, how much we extend the truth. They said that Scandal is almost operatic because it's so surreal at times and the fact that this current election is mirroring that recording, it's bigger than what we're doing."
When The Whole Election Was Like An Episode Of Jerry Springer
After Monday's first debate, Jerry Springer took to Twitter to weigh in. And his comments were very telling of the election season overall. He said that Trump should go on his show. Springer typically brings on guests with explosive personalities. They yell, they fight people, and generally engage in inappropriate behavior. So, he's saying Trump would fit right in.
We'll see what the rest of the election, which including two more presidential debates, offer up as more proof that TV shows about politics are sometimes true to life.
Images: NBC (1); Giphy (2)