The best political series to put on your watchlist

The best political series to put on your watchlist

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Wednesday, 21st July 2021
Veep (Credit: HBO), Designated Survivor (Credit: Netflix), Bodyguard (Credit: BBC), Roadkill (Credit: BBC)
Veep (Credit: HBO), Designated Survivor (Credit: Netflix), Bodyguard (Credit: BBC), Roadkill (Credit: BBC)

With so much drama in real life politics it has been the perfect inspiration for many TV dramas, here are some of our favourites. 


Scandal shows the dark side of politics, the shady backdoor deals, selfish betrayals and hurtful lies. 

In Washington power is everything and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is the person you go to if you need something fixed, from political to personal, she knows how to handle a problem quickly and discreetly.

Pope’s crisis management firm in Washington is comprised of ‘gladiators’, outspoken investigator Abby (Darby Stanchfield), ex-assassin and tech guy Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and loyal and fierce lawyer Quinn (Katie Lowes).

The elite rely on Pope and her associates to hide their secrets, but it may be their own secrets that prove the hardest to keep hidden.

Pope has a complicated and dangerous entanglement with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), the President of the United States, which causes tension with Fitz’s wife Mellie (Bellamy Young), who wants to be more than a trophy wife and grab some power for herself.


Writer and director Armando Iannucci created Veep as the American counterpart to his British sitcom The Thick of It.

No redemption for politics is found in the cutthroat series which follows Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), as the Vice President of the United States. 

Meyer and her team want to leave a positive legacy but soon become disillusioned with the day-to-day political games. 

As well as showing the inner workings of the US government, Meyer’s personal life is explored including her strained relationships with her daughter and ex-husband. 

Discontented with being second in demand and with the job being nothing like she thought, Meyer struggles with her lack of power.

Throughout the show Meyer’s party affiliation is never revealed. 

The Thick of It 

Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, the cult British comedy satirises the British government and the drama that surrounds it.

Initially the show focuses on a government minister, his advisers and the party’s spin doctor, but soon expands to introduce new characters who form the opposition party.

The struggles and conflicts of the relationships between politicians, party spin doctors, advisers, civil servants and the media is explored. 

The series became famous for its profanity and for storylines that often-reflected real life policies and scandals. 

To add to the realism of the show a journalist and former civil servant acted as an advisor on the writing team. 

Showcasing the morally ambiguous behaviour and manipulation that occurs within government, the incompetence of the characters highlights the cutthroat world of politics. 

Madam Secretary 

Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) is the United States Secretary of State after 20 years as a CIA analyst. 

After leaving the CIA for ethical reasons, the president drafts in McCord after her predecessor dies under suspicious circumstances. 

With an extensive knowledge of the Middle East, impressive language skills and creative thinking, McCord drives international diplomacy while battling office politics and restrictive protocols. 

An expert negotiator and diplomat, McCord must juggle not only international politics, but her own personal life with a husband and three kids at home. 

House of Cards 

An adaptation of the BBC series of the same name, political thriller House of Cards focuses on the ruthless nature of working in government and the manipulation, betrayal and determination it takes to gain power. 

Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is hungry for power, and when he is passed over for the role of Secretary of State, he colludes with his equally ambitious wife Claire (Robin Wright) to steal power. 

As Frank rises to the top, he seeks revenge on all those who betrayed him and is pragmatic in his lust for power. 

In 2017 sexual misconduct allegations led to Spacey being removed from the show, in the form of Frank’s death. 

With Frank gone Claire steps into the limelight and holds the ultimate power as the first female president of the United States. 

The West Wing 

From famous screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing takes a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the White House. 

Martin Sheen plays President Bartlet and provides an idealised version of politics, which sees smart, capable government operatives striving to make a positive difference. 

Aaron Sorkin is known for his fast-paced dialogue and extended monologues which were prominent throughout the series. 

Bartlet is joined by straight talking chief of staff Leo, played by John Spencer, awkward communications director Toby, played by Richard Schiff and ambitious deputy communications director Sam, played by Rob Lowe. 

Remembered for its romantic and optimistic vision of politics, the West Wing offered viewers a government yet to exist. 


Hugh Laurie plays Peter Laurence a government minister with political ambitions to ascend to high office. 

Having just won a newspaper libel case, the self-made and charismatic politician finds his personal and political life under attack by his enemies.

Untroubled by guilt or remorse, Laurence treads a fine line between glory and catastrophe as he strives to further his own agenda and outrun his secrets.

Helen McCrory plays the prime minister, who mistrusts the power-hungry Lawrence and Sarah Greene plays journalist Charmain Pepper, who is determined to reveal the truth about Laurence’s past. 

Brexit: The Uncivil War

The 2016 EU referendum split the country into two camps, leave or remain, causing division between many voters. 

The mini-series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings, tells the story of the lead-up to the referendum and those who worked on the leave campaign. 

Cummings was the campaign director of the Brexit supporting group Vote Leave and rejected traditional marketing tools such as campaign posters and phone calls in favour of social media.

The use of data manipulation by AggregateIQ is also explored, as well as how the leave campaign spread misinformation and mistrust.  

Designated Survivor 

In a single moment the life of American academic Thomas Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), changes completely when he goes from the US Secretary of housing and Urban Development to the President of the United States. 

Named as the designated survivor, Kirkman must take command when everyone in front of him in the presidential line of succession is killed in an explosion which destroys the capital building. 

With America’s fate in his hands, Kirkman must discover the truth about the attack, while balancing political chaos and doubts over his legitimacy as president. 


British political thriller by Jed Mercurio, Bodyguard focuses on Police Sergeant David Budd (Richard Madden), a British Army war veteran suffering from PTSD.

After helping to thwart a terrorist attack Budd is assigned as the principal protection officer for ambitious Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), despite hating her personal politics. 

Attempting to hide the psychological war going on in his mind, Budd is torn between his dedication to the job, his political ideals and fixing his broken home life. 

As further terrorist attacks plague the capital, Budd tries to unravel a major conspiracy involving police corruption and organised crime.

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With so much drama in real life politics it has been the perfect inspiration for many TV dramas, here are some of our favourites.