7 Political Movies and TV Shows to Distract From Our Own Hellscape Election

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If somehow you’re living in Australia and don’t know an election is currently happening, surprise, I guess? If you are aware that an election is underway, you’re probably trying desperately to get away from the hellscape. In that case, you should probably watch some political TV shows and movies. Stick with me.

From limited climate policies to continuous unnecessary attacks on the trans community, this election is shaping up to be a plot of a b-list horror movie.

So, this week’s Gizmodo Movie Night is dedicated to political movies and TV shows to prepare (and distract) you from the upcoming election.

I know it’s hard to believe, but these shows and movies might actually be worse than the situation we are currently in, so I suppose there is some comfort in that.

Let’s dive in.

Gaslit (2022)

Gaslit is the newest political thriller unpacking the 1970s Watergate scandal. Especially the untold stories and characters the history books left behind.

Julia Roberts stars as Martha Elizabeth Beall Mitchell, wife of John N. Mitchell (United States Attorney General under President Richard Nixon), who was incredibly vocal about her criticism about the government as the time of the Watergate scandal.

As corruption is a buzzword in our own election, Gaslit is the perfect political drama to watch if you want to know just how far spread governmental corruption can get.

The show is currently airing, so I won’t spoil too much about Gaslit, but it’s a very interesting take on political corruption and maybe it will make you realise how important anti-corruption watchdogs are.

Julia Roberts is, as expected, phenomenal as Martha Mitchell and the show does justice to her legacy.

Gaslit is currently streaming on Stan.

Veep (2012-2019)

If there’s any political show that will distract us from the inferno that is Australia’s current election, it’s Veep.

Legend, icon and all around superstar Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as former U.S. senator Selina Meyer who tries her best (sometimes) to serve as the Vice President.

Throughout the show, Selina and her team constantly scramble to put out scandal after scandal both in her public and private life.

Not only is it incredibly funny but it’s also got a lot of social commentary packed into it in a way that isn’t at first obvious.

Veep has everything you need in a political TV show. From the ins and outs of American politics, the corruption, the dodgey dealings, the back stabbing, the under-the-table deals and handshakes to an obvious disregard for the American people whom they are meant to serve.

It’s also packed full of humorous satire that will give you a good chuckle which is very needed given the state of our political landscape.

Veep is currently streaming on Binge

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

The Purge movies are pretty iconic for their terrifying concept of ordinary citizens legally becoming killing machines for one night a year. However, nothing is more frightening than an election campaign descending into actual murder.

In The Purge: Election Year, police Sergeant Leo Barnes is assigned the terrifying task of protecting Presidential candidate Charlie Roan after she becomes the main target for the Purge night.

The Purge capitalised on the fear that was the 2016 American election between Hillary Clinton and Former President Donald Trump, which we all know was a terrifying ordeal itself.

I think what’s the most terrifying about The Purge is that it doesn’t seem like that much of a distant concept that politicians will try to implement in our own reality.

If you want to be somewhat grateful that as awful as things may seem politically, we don’t have a legal night of crime so take that as a win, I guess.

The Purge: Election Year is currently streaming on Netflix

Total Control (2019-)

Now Total Control is a political TV show that I would love to see play out in our own election.

The show follows Alex Irving, an Indigenous woman from rural Queensland, who gets widespread media attention after a heroic action and prompts the Prime Minister to recruit her as a senator.

Total Control explores how the Australian Parliament and media treat Indigenous people, especially women, in the public eye. It’s also very telling of how white politicians try to use Indigenous people as tokens to garner sympathy votes.

Having a strong Indigenous woman turn the Australian political landscape on its head is something I wish was happening this election. Women like Lidia Thorpe are providing some hope, however.

Total Control is also a very accurate portrayal of Australian politics and how Indigenous and rural Australians are often forgotten and trodden on when it comes to policies.

My favourite quote from the show is “A mouthy Blakfella as Prime Minister? Yeah, I’d love to see that.” Us too Alex Irving, us too.

Total Control is currently streaming on ABC iView

Election (1999)

Yes, this movie isn’t technically about a political election, but I think that’s why it’s the perfect distraction from what’s currently going on around us.

Election focuses on a high school election where Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) runs unopposed for president. It isn’t until a teacher, Jim, notices her unusual (read: unethical) tactics to get what she wants, so he convinces the school’s star athlete to run against her.

The funniest part about this movie is the bitter feud between Tracy and Jim.

Using unethical tactics to get what you want is definitely something that feels too close to home in Australian politics.

Election is the perfect dark comedy that will certainly brighten up elections for you (hopefully).

Election is currently streaming on Stan

Designated Survivor (2016-2019)

When talking about political TV shows, it’s hard to overlook Designated Survivor. 

After a mysterious attack kills the president and essentially wipes out everyone else that’s in the line of succession, a cabinet minister is forced to take the top job as he becomes the designated survivor.

The plot is terrifying and an interesting take on the entire concept of a designated survivor.

It’s a show that will hook you in and keep you wanting more as things unravel and mysteries are revealed. It’s hard to talk about the show without spoiling it so I’ll leave it to you to watch and distract yourself.

Designated Survivor is currently streaming on Netflix.

Secret City (2016-2019)

It’s great to see an Aussie political TV show get the type of reception that Secret City did, especially when it’s absolutely deserved.

Secret City tells the story of the political underground of Canberra, which is divided by loyalties, lies and opportunistic greed, as a political journalist tries to uncover a conspiracy. A conspiracy that can risk the freedom of all Australians.

It’s so interesting seeing inside the politics of Australia and how Canberra works and operates in the public eye.

Canberra gets a bad wrap for being boring and dull but after watching Secret City, you’ll see it’s everything but dull.

Plus, it’s pretty fun to watch this show and think about what’s currently happening in Canberra during this election.

Secret City is steaming on Binge and Netflix.

Gizmodo Movie Night is our fortnightly roundup of movie and TV recommendations for the weekend. If you’re ever stuck and looking for inspiration, check out our list and see what’s in store. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of the column and check out our last one which was dedicated to 9 Iconic On-Screen Mothers We Need IRL.

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