May 9, 2012

May 9, 2012

What I Learned from “Battleground”

A few months ago, I raved about a made-for-Hulu series called “Battleground,” produced in part by my former collegemate and current friend-of-blog Melanie.* The series wrapped up its (hopefully first of many) seasons this week. This means that the whole thing is available legally for free on Hulu, so go watch it already. (Apologies to my non-US readers, for whom Hulu is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.)

Then come back here and continue reading, because I’m about to deconstruct it in a majorly spoilery way. (An adverb too far, you think?)

While my beloved “West Wing” was mostly about being in office, “Battleground” was all about how one gets into office. I myself have no experience with campaigning, and now know that I’m not cut out for it. Here’s how Battleground convinced me:

1. Running for office isn’t always compatible with a sound personal life. The campaign becomes your life, you see, so kiss your spouse/children/pets/book club goodbye. Think of all the scenes involving Tak and his wife going back-and-forth on the estrangement scale. In one of finale’s last scenes, Tak and the crew are celebrating their new gig, while Tak’s wife wistfully looks on. Which brings me to point #2…

2. Your hard work will be rewarded with more hard work. To be fair, this is true in most professions, and not just political campaigning. But American politics is sort of a giant pyramid scheme, from municipal offices at the bottom, through state and Congressional offices in the middle, up to the Presidency at the top. There’s always something to strive for, and Washington loves to strive. We’ve been called a city of student council presidents, and as a former student council president who moved to DC, I can attest that this is completely true.

3. Your fellow campaign workers will annoy and amuse you, and sometimes both at once. Jordan was my favorite “Battleground” character. I realize that he was probably intended as a sort of seasoning to the show: used just enough to spice things up but not enough to overpower everyone else. But I found his crazy antics, insane non sequitirs, and questionable intelligence absolutely fabulous.

4. Politics is a dirty world, and you gotta fling as good as the next guy. So many devious tricks showed up in “Battleground.” Endorsements that went awry. Phone jamming on Election Day. Smear ads. Nepotism. And this in my beloved home state of Wisconsin!

So what of the future for the “Battleground” gang? Though our candidate** lost, the team was offered a job running a presidential campaign. I hope to see this happen in season 2. I also hope to see more outside-the-box stuff, like the documentary episode. And maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but did we find out how Cole ended up in jail? Why Tak wasn’t in any of the talking heads? Did Ben and Lindsey get married? What’s KJ’s new gig in that fancy-schmancy office? What did Samuels do next?

Ben said something in the finale to the effect of, “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I miss it every day.” Here’s hoping we won’t be missing “Battleground” for too long.

* Happy birthday.
** I think of her that way despite the fact that I probably wouldn’t vote for her in real life. The show was just that good.

1 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

Yeah what happened to Cole, Tak, etc.? I was expecting at least half an episode would be epilogue. It ended on a great note with Samuels walking in, really well timed, but I'm not sure where that leaves things. I half expect there to be another episode next week, but it said finale so...