How can America trust their government and their law when in every aspect, fictitious and realistic, they are portrayed as corrupt? When people continue to see tracts of corruption in TV series that supposedly emulate the world they live in, the plausibility for the subversion of power, law, and stability increases tenfold.
I admit – I’m an avid watcher of TV shows like House of Cards, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, but as I have watched the 2016 Presidential election unfold, I now realize the implications of these overly dramatic and risque TV series. These political and legal dramas play on the average citizen’s ideas of the foundation and governance of society, leading them to believe that these hyperbolized shows elevate plausibility for corruption in their own lives.
In the Netflix series “House of Cards” the story of Frank Underwood, the Senate majority whip and then the President, includes the notorious facets of corruption: lots of sex, drugs, money, and power struggle.
Mr. Underwood is ruthless, a man of stoic nature and relentless ambition. In his fight to become the leader of the free world, he dips into the dark side. He has marriage issues, anger issues, all types of issues…. But he still becomes the President of the United States. Even his wife, Claire Underwood, a Lady Macbeth of her own, undergoes a transformation that includes affairs, resenting her husband, and backchanneling politics.
The darker sides of the world we try to believe we can trust
In the ABC series “Scandal,” the fearless Olivia Pope runs her own private practice that caters to the high-profile social icons and politicians. Olivia dabbles in many dangerous situations, capable of always winning but incapable of finding love. Fittingly enough, she finds her romance with the President of the United States.
Besides her fling at the White House, Olivia Pope navigates the sex scandals of politicians, the hidden work of the FBI and the CIA, and the drama of her own counsel. Olivia Pope supposedly wears the “white hat,” but to viewers of the series, she too walks on the dark side.
In the TV series “How to Get Away With Murder,” the ugly face of criminal law rears its head. Annalise Keating is a criminal defense attorney and a professor at Middlebury law school. With her five interns behind her, she dives into a world of blood, murder, mystery, and lust. Throughout the plot, secrets are aplenty and lives are destroyed. The five ambitious students represent the ubiquitous shark stereotype of lawyers, while Annalise remains the mastermind of it all. They divert all rules to achieve victory.
Lust for money and power
Millions watch these TV series. The parallels are striking. When people continue to see tracts of corruption in shows that supposedly emulate the world they live in, the plausibility for the subversion of power, law, and stability increases tenfold. It is worsened when American politics emulates the TV series – shown through Watergate, Clinton’s email scandal, super PACs, and general bribery.
How can America trust their government and their law when in every aspect, fictitious and realistic, they are portrayed as corrupt?
People fear the toil of characters like Frank & Claire Underwood, Olivia Pope and counsel, and Annelise Keating and her interns. They represent the darker sides of the world we try to believe we can trust, but unfortunately, that very darkness is pervasive. When we have a reality TV star turned politician and a woman with a possible indictment on her resume as the Presidential nominees, the fear has reached an all-time high.
The distrust in the foundation of the United States of America undermines the democracy it feeds off of. Without people dedicated to its livelihood, the misconduct already existent will multiply. Activism will not be fostered if every American believes that their politician is laundering money, listening to corporations, and having affairs. These shows may be entertaining, but the standard of our nation is lacking in these series, and it is reflecting into real life.
Featured picture: Fan art from Denise Esposito (Instagram: deniseespositoart)