At the same time, it’s not a direct reproduction of any of those real-life elections. The writers have always been very intentional about drawing from and reflecting real-life elements, but not creating direct, one-to-one analogies. For instance, Mencken doesn’t need to be exactly like Trump, and it’s arguably more effective that he isn’t. The way that the show consistently pulls off this high-wire act is brilliant — and extraordinarily stressful — television.
Also, as a recovering former breaking news and politics reporter, this episode was A LOT. — Marina
This episode was hard to watch and very triggering. Like Marina said, it wasn’t even hard to watch because of it being based off of exact events, but moreso because of the fine line there is between business and media and politics and the implication blurring those lines has on democracy. Shiv had been trying to ring the alarm on that most of the episode, even though she has her own self-motivating interests that factor into that. The entire energy around this episode felt more sinister than usual down to ATN-dubbed president-elect Jeryd Mencken’s victory speech in which he damned “welfare kings and queens” and promised to bring “something clean to this once polluted land.” If that speech didn’t send the hunting chill of 2020 down your spine, then I don’t know if we were watching the same episode. — Taryn
This episode made me incredibly thankful that I had the discernment early on to never pursue political reporting. Besides an op-ed or two, I knew from the jump that I never, ever wanted to cover Capitol Hill, politics, etc. Absolutely hellish. — Ruth
I had the now-unfortunate timing of graduating from college and getting my first job in the spring of 2015. There’s definitely a “before 2015/2016” in political journalism, and “after 2015/2016.” — Marina
LOL, Ruth. I definitely went to college thinking I was going to do political reporting. I minored in political science and was living in D.C., and by the time I graduated, I was like nah, I’m good on this. I’ve been in newsrooms for so many elections and every time it comes around it’s so stressful even being adjacent to the coverage. But I do have a confession about watching last night’s episode. I had to stop it about two-thirds of the way through because it was too stressful to watch right before bed and I didn’t want to be wired and just up after it was over. Watching that Mencken speech at the end, and seeing all the Roy children’s faces, was just so chilling. I’m really not looking forward to 2024. I mean, it’s already starting. — Erin