Jack Holland
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Imagining the president (in The West Wing, 24, and Veep)
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The presidency has long been a popular topic for American film and television, with a multitude of contemporary shows focusing on the dynamics of the White House. This chapter considers the positive, progressive, and enabling role that fictional television can and frequently does play in American politics. It argues that television's second golden age has embraced a longer history of positive issue framing that has been of sustained importance in imagining and reimagining the US president. To do so, the chapter assesses a range of related television shows that increase the political possibility of future outcomes that were previously difficult to imagine. In turn, it also considers how portrayals of the US president in fictional television shows have helped to pave the way for the election of liberal, minority-ethnic, and women leaders. The principal shows discussed are The West Wing, 24, and Veep.

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Fictional television and American Politics

From 9/11 to Donald Trump


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