What happens when four senators live together under one roof on Capitol Hill?
That’s the concept behind Amazon’s new show, “Alpha House.” While the streaming series is more like “Veep” than “The West Wing,” writer and creator Garry Trudeau says the new political satire goes to the heart of the GOP’s struggle to reconcile the Establishment and Tea Party wings of the party.
“We’re interested in telling the story of mainstream conservative Republicans who are now caught in this crisis of identity,” Trudeau told “Top Line” on the red carpet for the show’s D.C. premiere. “But there aren’t any direct parallels with any particular [members].”
“Alpha House” is loosely based on the real-life story of a Capitol Hill row house that Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and a slew of other members of Congress have shared over the years.
Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who lived with Schumer and Durbin for a time, said the house depicted on “Alpha House” simply “can’t be” as gross as the actual Hill abode.
“I remember once being interviewed, and they asked me a bunch of questions about, ‘Well, what’s the hygiene like?’” Delahunt recalled. “And my reaction was just one of laughter. I said, ‘We don’t have any cockroaches -- because the rats scare the cockroaches away.’”
What’s more, the fictional “Alpha House” is home to single members.
Mark Consuelos’ character, Sen. Andy Guzman, dates a wealthy heiress played by Yara Martinez, who said finding real-life inspiration for her role was difficult.
“I did try to look for ‘Cuban billionaire heiress from Miami that puts together Super PACs,’ but I couldn’t find one,” Martinez joked.
“When someone refers to [Adriana], they’re like “Andy’s dating that?” and [one character] was like, “Yeah, we thought the same thing, but she’s really rich and powerful once you get to know her,” and I think it just defines perfectly how sometimes things operate,” Martinez said.
Like Adriana, all of the “Alpha House” characters are caricatures of Washington’s insider political community.
“We really did want to make it as authentic as possible, unless it got in the way of something really funny,” Executive Producer Jonathan Alter said.
Alter recalled one scene in which John Goodman’s character, Sen. Gill John Biggs, had his staff sitting with him during a Senate committee hearing.
“I went on to the set and said, ‘Actually, staff sits along the wall -- they don’t sit at the table.’ And as I was walking back, John Goodman said, “Thank you, Jonathan Scorsese!”
For more inside scoop on “Alpha House,” including which two real-life politicians inspired one of the show’s main characters, check out this episode of “Top Line.”
ABC’s Gary Westphalen, Jim Martin, and Barry Haywood contributed to this episode.