Hostages and Heroes: Six of the best US Political Dramas

We all love our crime dramas. But it’s not just the whodunnits and detective shows that we’re glued to. Some of the biggest – and most fascinating – criminals on the box are respectable politicians in thousand dollar suits. In fact, most of the biggest bad guys on TV are (*cough* just like real life…)

So we thought we’d take a look at our favourite US political crime dramas, we have six of the very best on our hard-hitting list.

Dead Good Political Dramas


 

1. 24

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) of the Counter Terrorism Unit starts every series with a seemingly open-and-shut case involving some nasty criminals. But pretty much all of his cases uncover conspiracies that implicate any number of high-ranking officials. The dodgy-dealing politicians usually start the day all smug, but end it getting chucked out of an airplane or shot in the head by our Jack. After all, 24 hours is a long time in politics.


 

2. House of Cards

Based on the same novel as Andrew Davies’ popular 1990 BBC series of the same name, Netflix’s US version has found an all-new audience since its debut in 2013. Cards impressively bagged A-lister Kevin Spacey to play ambitious but sleazy Democrat Frank Underwood, a man that will stop at nothing – not bribery, corruption, blackmail – to get exactly what he wants in Washington DC.
 
 
 


 

3. Boardwalk Empire

Sure, on the surface of things, Boardwalk Empire is a tale of gangsters. But look closer and you’ll see that behind most of the whisky runs and mob hits, there’s a seemingly-legitimate councillor, treasurer or senator. So we see the likes of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky and a whole host of other professional crims bootlegging and whacking people, but it’s Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson, Treasurer of Atlantic County, that’s really running the show.


 

4. Hostages

For once, a political crime show where the politicians aren’t criminals (or are they?!)? Well, perhaps. The law breaking occurs around the politics in this CBS thriller. Dylan McDermott’s rogue FBI agent takes, as the name suggests, hostages in the form of Toni Collette’s family? Why? Well, she’s a doctor about to perform a life-saving operation on the President. And he wants to ensure that she doesn’t save that life…
 


 

5. Homeland

The ultimate drama about politics and crime, where the lines between the two are permanently blurred. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s even true? This tale of a CIA agent and a ‘turned’ Marine Commando deals with all sorts of delicate topics: terrorism, oil wars, torture, fear mongering and paranoia. And expertly too.
 
 


 

6. The Wire

This Baltimore-set crimed drama, so beloved by The Guardian, really helped kick off the box set revolution. It was the perfectly blended mix of politics, crime and police procedure that fascinated us all so much. Corrupt cops, drug dealers, crooked councilmen… They all came together to get their own way and make a fast buck. But perhaps the overall theme of the show was how the political animal – so vulnerable to corruption and bureaucracy – is ultimately destined to fail the people. Heavy stuff, but food for thought.


 

These are our favourite political thrillers – let us know yours in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. Terry Walker says

    24 excellent initially but tended towards same old after a while
    Homeland excellent but becoming less creditable with time
    House of Cards UK version superb
    The Wire -spoiled by undecipherable Negro accents
    Hostages-good initially then not credible
    Boardwalk — soon got bored
    Best Ever was The West Wing by FAR– credible with fine acting!!!!