Favorite Television Shows and Personal Politics


Via the expert scientists at Entertainment Weekly, — okay, the research part was done by Experian Simmons — comes

  a look at the favorite shows of self-proclaimed Conservative Republicans and Liberal Democrats.

In the findings, "sarcastic" media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems. While serious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives.

Conservatives enjoy Top Shot,  a reality show which involves wacky target shooting scenarios, as well as Swamp Loggers, which is exactly what it says on the tin, a reality show about loggers who work in a swamp.  They dig all sorts of History shows about America and old stuff and pawn shops. Horrifyingly, they like The Bachelor, and they favor Jay Leno for their late night TV show host, but they redeem things a bit for their support of the crazy British car show Top Gear.

Liberals of course love their Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They also like quirky network comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation. They like the very gay-friendly Glee. They'll also accept Conan, Craig Ferguson, and David Letterman for their late talk show needs.

Perhaps more revealing are the shows that each side strongly dislikes. The HBO Showtime comedy Weeds does not appeal to conservatives. Nor do Jon Stewart, South Park, or Family Guy. They also dislike Divorce Court (not so surprising) and the zombie-survival show Walking Dead.

Liberals really hate the aforementioned Swamp Loggers, making ask whether on the show they're "feeding Nancy Pelosi to alligators." They also dislike COPS (fair enough) and Dog the Bounty Hunter. They hate most of the weird reality shows that conservatives dig about people with dangerous or quirky jobs, as well as shows like Ghost Hunters which purport to involve the after life.

But the key question of what those libertarians (or even so-called independents) are watching of course goes both unasked and unanswered. Most shows which feature a libertarian-like character are gone. Fox's underrated animated series King of the Hill had a broadly, if entertainingly painted character named Dale Gribble who had some of the marks of a libertarian. In one episode he proclaimed "guns don't kill people, the government does." In another he urged his neighbor Hank Hill not to vote, saying "every election day I go Christmas shopping."

The gone too soon Fox sci-fi series Firefly had space Captain Mal Reynolds, who says in the show's pilot episode "That's what government's for, get in a man's way." And basically his entire character motivation is to keep away from the oppressive Alliance government (a melding of China and the United States.)

The obvious choice in liberty-loving television characters for a currently running show is of course Parks and Recreation's Ron Swanson, who is an actual self-proclaimed libertarian. The show is a liberal favorite, and it does contain the endlessly optimistic government drone Leslie Knope. The writing may poke some fun at Ron Swanson's abundance of rugged individualism, but the character himself is sympathetically drawn. Best of all, so far the show writers have managed to make Ron Swanson a human being who likes his freakishly pro-government colleague personally, but doesn't let that change him on things like eating most of a little girl's lunch in order to explain taxes.

What say you commenters, libertarian friendly shows? Shows which are libertarian kryptonite? Or is television your a-political hideaway? 

John Payne wrote a great piece on "The Politics of Parks and Recreation" for the November issue. And Reason on culture.