Chicago-style politics now a common trope of TV dramas

October 17, 2012

While accusations have been levied for years of certain politicians practicing "Chicago-style politics," television dramas didn't fully embrace the subject until recent years. I would argue that the charges bandied about during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential run are largely responsible for the rise of this type of show.

First there was The Good Wife, a CBS hour-long drama that premiered in September of 2009, ten months after Obama's election and nine months after Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI, reinforcing all the claims of corruption Obama had fought throughout the campaign.

Here's star Julianna Margulies talking about her approach to politics, and family connections.

Then in February 2011 Fox debuted The Chicago Code, a police drama that featured a corrupt alderman played by Delroy Lindo.

Unlike The Good Wife, The Chicago Code was cancelled before it completed its first season.

It was only five later that TV viewers had a new fictional Chicago to explore, as Starz launched their ambitious drama Boss starring Kelsey Grammer. Easily the darkest of the three shows, Boss features a mayor loosely based on the Daley dynasty, plus lots of gratuitous sex scenes. Those scenes often feature Kathleen Robertson's character, who she says she also studied up on Chicago politics before taking on the role of mayoral cheif of staff.

Kelsey Grammer won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2012, but was snubbed by the Emmy voters. What did the Republican actor attribute his loss to? Essentially Chicago-style politics. Here's a Politico piece about Grammer's appearance on The Tonight Show:

Asked to guess why he got snubbed, the actor said, “Well, I mean it may have to do with several, several things honestly. But I think it’s possible – I mean, I am a declared, out of the closet Republican in Hollywood.  So, do I believe it’s possible that some young voting actor or even older voting member for the Emmys would sit there and go, ‘That’s a great performance, but I hate everything he stands for?’”

He added sarcastically, “I don’t believe that’s possible.”