Nowhere else in the world do entertainment and politics quite glad hand — okay, some might say circle jerk — each other like in America (and yeah, I’m talking about you, Schwarzenegger). And equally, no where else is this trend more obvious than in the ever-growing, mutually beneficial relationship between primetime TV and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Don’t act surprised. Even if you’re living in a hole, I’m sure you still managed to catch Clinton’s appearance in that Saturday Night Live “Bar Talk” sketch last October — which, to both Clinton’s and the comedy show’s credit, equally mocked Donald Trump and Clinton’s slowness to oppose the Keystone pipeline and support marriage equality. SNL regular Kate McKinnon, in playing Clinton, admits: “I could have supported it earlier.” Clinton, playing Val, your everyday bartender, then concedes: “Fair point.” Since then, McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton impressions have become a mainstay of SNL, and I doubt that laughing at her own expense has hurt Clinton’s ratings either.
Also, Clinton’s confession to binge-watching shows like The Good Wife, House of Cards, and Madame Secretary on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert further blurred the line between fiction and reality. Arguably, all the shows Clinton mentioned feature protagonists who are somewhat based on her own political and personal life. As ruthless as the political schemer Francis Underwood may be in Netflix’s House of Cards, his wife Claire ultimately proves herself to be just as ambitious. Despite their fractured private relationship, they maintain a united front when the two realize they are stronger together than apart: a true power couple, much like the Clintons themselves. The Good Wife, still a critical success in its seventh season, follows a strong female protagonist who returns to her own career after a hugely publicized scandal involving her husband. Sound familiar? As for Madame Secretary, duh, since Clinton herself served as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, she could definitely drop the writers an insider hint or two.
TV is now blatantly giving Clinton some more serious on-air love, if not political support. Last night, in an unprecedented campaign ad strategically aired during ABC’s Shonda Rhimes-dominated prime time, Scandal star Kerry Washington called Clinton a “champion for all of us.” In addition, Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo, How To Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis, and longtime Clinton supporter Rhimes herself, announced: “I’m with Hillary.” The one-minute spot, called “Real Life,” will also run this evening in states whose primaries are held on March 15. Directed by Tony Goldwyn, who plays Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal — a show that Clinton visited on-set last month — it includes the actresses saying:
“Every day I wake up and play a brilliant, complex, overqualified, get-it-done woman, who obsessively fights for justice, who cares, who gives a voice to the voiceless, who gets knocked down and always gets back up. I make television filled with the kinds of characters I imagine we all can be. Strong but flawed, human but extraordinary. Our characters are on television but the real world … The real world has Hillary Clinton.”
God knows, Clinton has enough detractors, and has already been the target of many accusations about her accountability. But just before anyone could accuse ABC of partisanship last night, the network managed to cover its ass nicely, adding after the campaign spot: “This was a paid political advertisement placed on a number of stations. Broadcasters are required by the FCC to carry these ads.” So eat your heart out, Trump.