Apr 16, 2016

Political Lessons I've Learned From TV Shows

Over the past decade or so of TV binging, I've learned a surprising amount of life skills from the various shows that I've watched.  What follows is a short summary of the ones that I remember the best.  I've indicated what seasons of the show that I watched, in most cases it's less than the entirety of show.  Any lessons that I've drawn from these shows comes solely from the seasons/episodes indicated.  You may notice that most of these deal with lessons about interpersonal relationships; why not learn from fictional character's mistakes?

__Suits__ (Seasons 1-3)
Suits is a drama about a high profile corporate lawyer named Harvey, the law firm that he works at, and his 'illigitimate' protege, Mike.  Mike is a first year associate at Harvey's firm, whom Harvey has hand-picked to be his protege.  Mike's illigitimacy stems from the fact that he didn't graduate from Harvard, which is where all associates at the firm must come from.

Throughout the three seasons, Mike seems always to be on the verge of getting into major trouble, either with the partners, or with Harvey, or with Louis, Harvey's rival at the firm.  None of the other first year associates seem to get anywhere near the level of near-misses as far as being tossed out on their asses as Mike does.  And that's the lesson -- if you're not in a position where you're exposed to constant threats to your continued employment status, you're probably not in much of a position of anything.  This is instructive in two ways: first it's possible to keep your head down and coast.  As long as you're not attracting too much attention to yourself or really too caught up in the drama, there's really not much you'll have to worry about corporate wise.  The other way this is instructive is that if you're constantly worried about getting fired or in the midst of some drama or the other, it's totally ok.  There is no position at a firm that is high profile and also not constantly atop shifting sands.  All corporate, positional victories are fleeting.

Network: USA.  Premiere: 2011  Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suits_(TV_series)

__House of Cards__ (Seasons 1-2)
House of Cards is a Netflix drama about Frank Underwood, senator from the South with scheming machinations on the White House.  I only watched the first two seasons, in which Frank manages to considerably advance his political standing via some brilliant maneuvers, some more savory than others.  Watching Frank work, one thing that really stands out to me is how much he needs other people to support him.  Frank's brilliance is nothing without other, loyal people; he's constantly on the lookout for more people that he can do a favor for.  To Frank, other's mistakes are opportunities.  For example, in the second season, he develops a relationship with a Secret Service agent who fucks something up.  I don't remember the exact specifics of how this helps Frank out, but I do remember Frank's forgiveness.  Reinvesting trust in people who have broken it is a thing that you *can* do.  One failure and you're out is a quick way to burn bridges.  You can always use more good people.

Network: Netflix.  Premiere: 2013.  Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Cards_(U.S._TV_series)

__The Wire__
There's a lot to this show, but I'm only going to concentrate on one particular aspect of it: Thomas Carcetti's relationship to his deputy campaign manager, Norman Wilson.  Norman is Carcetti's right hand man.  As such, he's largely responsible for sharing bad news, and getting the mayoral candidate out of potentially disastrous social situations.  It's a subtle relationship and probably something that's assumed for a coterie of a powerful politician -- you cultivate relationships with people that will help you out of tight spots socially, so that you can get what you need to get done, without burning bridges or ending up in awkward situations.  Watching Norman work, his ability to be honest and upfront with Carcetti and helpful to him in any and all situations, his loyalty and belief in Carcetti and their mission, his sense of humor and positivity: Norman is a force for good in humanity.  Normans are good people to have in your life; they're also not a bad person to be for other people.

Network: HBO. Premiere: 2002 Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wire

__Better Call Saul__ (Season 1)
I love Saul. Absolutely love him.  His relationship with his piece of shit brother is another thing though.  Without giving too much away, trying to understand why people stand against you is sometimes a deeper rabbit hole than you might wish to go down.  If you find yourself pit against someone who doesn't seem to have a deep seated hatred towards you, but works to block you regardless, look to their broader loyalties -- their actions rarely have anything to do with *you*, per se.

Network: AMC. Premiere: 2015 Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Call_Saul

__Breaking Bad__
Check your motives carefully, as your ego is a precious, dangerous, lying, conniving thing.  Little good comes from any ego-driven action.

Network: AMC. Premiere: 2008. Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Bad

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