Election Day is here at last, and the fractious nature of this year’s cycle means that we’re going to be spending much of Nov. 8 glued to our news station of choice as the future occupant of the Oval Office is decided. But you’re going to need a break from our real-world election at some point during the day, especially before the trickle of results turns into a flood in the evening hours. With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of 10 election-themed episodes and storylines you can binge on in between poll results.
Battlestar Galactica (Hulu)
Episodes: “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1 and 2” (Season 2, Episodes 19-20)
Upstart candidate Gaius Baltar spoils sitting Colonial President’s easy path to re-election by basing his entire campaign around a single issue. To be fair, it’s a pretty important single issue: Continue the ragtag fleet’s quixotic quest through the cosmos for Earth or settle on life-sustaining New Caprica before time or the Cylons makes ashes of them all? Baltar’s settlement plan, combined with a blatant case of military-dictated voter fraud, swings the election in his favor. Although it only takes a one-year time jump for voters to realize the error of their ways.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Episode: “The Waldo Moment” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Could we one day be swearing in President Squarepants? It’s not as unrealistic as you might think. This timely installment of Charlie Brooker’s forward-thinking series posits what might happen if a literal cartoon character were to seek higher office, playing upon the boredom and detachment of disaffected voters to defeat a more qualified candidate. Not for nothing, but we’d be fully onboard with a “Krabby Patties for All” agenda.
Episode: “Woody Gets an Election” (Season 11, Episode 21)
Frasier Crane nominates the bar’s resident yokel to run for Boston’s City Council as a grand social experiment, and winds up creating Beantown’s next big politician (and possibly president?) in the process. Woody’s strategy of breaking down in tears during his first big televised debate — and then discovering that he’s about to become a dad while the cameras are rolling — is a winning strategy that more candidates should employ.
Glee (Amazon Prime)
Episodes: “Mash Off” and “I Kissed a Girl” (Season 3, Episodes 6-7)
It’s election season at McKinley High, with Mercedes assuming the presidency of the New Directions splinter group, the Troubletones, while Kurt runs for senior class president, and Sue aims to take out his old man, Burt, in Ohio’s congressional race. In the end, though, only Hummel Sr. can go home singing “We Are the Champions,” as his son is disqualified over voting discrepancies, paving the way for the Brittany Pierce administration. This fondue’s for you, Brittany.
Gilmore Girls (Netflix)
Episode: “Tippecanoe and Taylor, Too” (Season 5, Episode 4)
When you come at the king, you’d best not miss. And Sookie’s beloved Jackson squarely connects with Stars Hollow despot Taylor Doose where it counts: at the town selectman ballot box. The farmer bests his rival by a whopping 1,114 to 10. But Taylor doesn’t go into political exile quietly and, as it turns out, a harried Jackson is only too happy to surrender his power between seasons. By the time Season 6 begins, Doosey is the main dude again, while Jackson is happily tending to his vegetables and making fancy jams.
Episode: “President” (Season 3, Episode 1)
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A blustery business tycoon prone to making outlandish comments decides to run for president despite not having any prior governmental experience. NewsRadio predicted our country’s future exactly 20 years ago with this 1996 episode where Jimmy James enters the presidential race for all of seven minutes. At least Jimmy can take pride in knowing that his Japanese-to-English translated autobiography, Super Karate Monkey Death Car, is a more entertaining read than The Art of the Deal.
Parks and Recreation (Netflix)
Episodes: “Campaign Ad” through “Win, Lose, or Draw” (Season 4, Episodes 12-22)
Technically, Leslie Knope’s city council campaign lasts the duration of Parks’s fourth season, but if you can’t squeeze in all 22 half-hours, start from the episode where the charmingly clueless Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) announces his candidacy. When you’ve got Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler competing head-to-head for laughs (and votes), no matter who loses, the audience wins.
Episodes: “Ride, Sally, Ride” through “The Price of Free and Fair Elections” (Season 3, Episodes 11-18)
Strap in for one wild ride of a re-election, as Prez Fitz contends with a Veep that’s gone rogue, a First Lady experiencing some horrifying flashbacks about her father-in-law, and his on-again, off-again mistress running his campaign. He manages to go the distance, but not without a heavy psychological cost.
Veep (HBO Go)
Episodes: “Joint Session” through “Election Night” (Season 4, Episodes 1-10)
Newly installed POTUS Selina Meyer spends the entirety of her fourth year on the air attempting to be elected into the Oval Office after inheriting it. Veep creator Armando Iannucci — who departed after this mic drop of a season — choreographs her slow-motion disaster of a campaign with expert precision. It all climaxes with a hilariously open-ended season finale where there’s no victory or concession speech. Here’s hoping that (fake) history doesn’t repeat itself on Nov. 8.
The West Wing (Netflix)
Episodes: “Debate Camp” through “Election Night” (Season 4, Episodes 5-7)
Never mind the race to replace Bartlett, which took up much of The West Wing’s final year. His midseries reelection is much more satisfying, and a necessary reminder that a successful campaign can also be one that’s civil and high-minded.