The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

The Political Drama: From The West Wing to Scandal


Noel Holston - 5/14/2014
The Political Drama: From The West Wing to Scandal

NBC’s fall schedule, unveiled this week, includes a new political drama, State of Affairs, that will star Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst responsible for the President ‘s daily briefing and Alfre Woodard as the Leader of the Free World. Described the network as “a high octane, edge-of-your-seat thriller,” it got the green light from the network because Washington is a hot TV commodity these days, exemplified by the buzz-generating hits Scandal and House of Cards. (Both of them, by the way, will be picking up Peabodys Awards at Monday’s ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York).

There’s been a sea change in the emphasis and attitude of Washington-based dramas since the heyday of The West Wing, a two-time Peabody winner (1999, 2000) that was born during the final years of the Clinton Administration.

Whereas The West Wing offered a hopeful take on governance, Scandal and House of Cards portray a political process permeated by cynicism, scheming and self-interest.

It may be naïve to inquire what happened in the interim to make the Hollywood creative community engage in such a jaundiced reimagining of how Washington works – or doesn’t – but naïve, even “dumb,” questions often provoke the most surprising and enlightening answers.

So, our comments section is open to one and all. How did we get from The West Wing to House of Cards and Scandal? Is it Hollywood’s cynicism that’s being reflected, or is it ours?