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Can TV Shows Finally Shed Light on How American Politics Work?

I woke up yesterday to find a flurry of excited posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter discussing the season three premier of “House of Cards”. Throughout the prelude to the weekend, more than 600,000 people tweeted about #houseofcards.

For the uninitiated, “House of Cards” features an unrelenting Kevin Spacey in the ruthless, dog-eat-dog world of politics. Another political series, “Scandal”, also nudged its way into the hearts of American viewers. And while “Scandal” may feature some unrealistic situations, albeit with soap elements and romantic tragedies, it does offer insight into the shady back deals that politicians are not averse to making as part of their daily dance with the devil.

Which brings me to this point: more and more shows like “House of Cards” and “Scandal” are riding the airwaves these days, and while there may be over-dramatization, the shows actually help in educating the audience on the intricate workings of American politics.

For example, ask 10 “House of Cards” fans who the current president’s Chief of Staff is, and chances are all you’d get are blank stares. However, change the topic to their favorite show and they’ll quickly tell you that Doug Stamper is President Frank Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) right-hand man. And former director of strategy. And a regular AA attendee. And… well, you get the drift.

The point is, people now have an idea of how politics work. The know about the people who turn the White House’s cogs – their position, what are their jobs like and their responsibilities. They may also get an insight on how democratic politics in the present day is deteriorating, thanks to a rooted culture of deal-making and greedy third parties.

On a positive side, this also helps people make informed choices about who they vote into the government. Considering the fact that 15% of people aged 25-29 watch “House of Cards”, this definitely helps in educating youths in making the right choices based on research and applied knowledge, not a choice based on what their parents believe in. In other instances, those who do vote, oftentimes make shallow choices, for example, based on how well a candidate delivers his speech. With TV shows like “House of Cards”, “Scandal” and “West Wing”, people can now more or less know the ins and outs of politics and the people behind it.

So, who’s with me in waiting for “House of Cards” season four?

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Hernan Molina

Hernan Molina