These 10 political films and series will get you through the U.S. election

Can't look away from the U.S. election? ​Here's one way to get some perspective and stick with a political mindset no matter where you live: binge-watch election-themed films and TV series.

If you crave a distraction but want to stay politically focused this week, try Election, Scandal and others

Robin Wright, left, and Kevin Spacey are shown in a scene from the award-winning Netflix original series, House of Cards. The latest season focuses on re-election. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix/Associated Press)

It's not even our election, but Canadians are sensing the anxiety coming from south of the border.

More than half of Americans have reported feeling a significant amount of election stress, according to the American Psychological Association. And yet, people can't seem to look away.

​Here's one way to get some perspective and stick with a political mindset no matter where you live: binge-watch the election-themed films and TV series below.

We don't guarantee you'll be more zen afterwards though — some of these fictional storylines feel so real they'll make you wonder if art was imitating life, or the other way around.


Reese Witherspoon plays an over-achieving high schooler in this 1999 dark comedy about a dirty high school election.

It might actually be slightly uncomfortable to watch given the current political climate. U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has been compared to Tracy Flick, Witherspoon's fictional over-prepared, ambitious and cutthroat character.

Witherspoon herself said in 2015 at a Hollywood producers conference: "When I did meet Hillary Clinton, she said, 'Everybody talks to me about Tracy Flick in Election.'"


Tossing political correctness aside and speaking without a filter has done wonders for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. It also worked for Warren Beatty's character in the 1998 film Bulworth. Beatty plays a senator running for re-election. The more he freely speaks his mind and makes offensive remarks, the more he's adored.

You can also skip the film and just get a story summary from its soundtrack standout track Ghetto Supastar (That is What You Are).

Ides of March

The shady side of political maneuvring and campaigning is central to this 2011 film, starring Canadian Ryan Gosling and George Clooney. Clooney wrote the screenplay. An idealistic campaign manager gets a cold dose of reality in Ides of March, and we're guessing there's others in the current political arena who can sympathize.

Primary Colors

​This 1998 political drama was based on a novel written by a journalist who was covering Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992. The all-star cast, which includes John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates, is enough to keep you glued to the screen.

But before you make too many real-life connections, Thompson, who played eventual First Lady Susan Stanton in the movie, said she did not base her portrayal on Hillary Clinton. Travolta, however, said he relied on myriad presidents for inspiration, but mostly Bill.

All the President's Men

In this 1976 political thriller, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play two Washington Post reporters who investigate and uncover the Watergate scandal. It culminates against the backdrop of Richard Nixon's presidential re-election in 1973. It's the kind of story you couldn't make up if you tried, but knowing the abuse of power and subsequent cover-up is all based on fact, makes it a lot tougher to swallow.


This Steven Spielberg epic starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln doesn't really have much to do with an election. But it's such an inspiring reminder of formidable leadership and vision, that it might be just what a lot of people need right now. Especially after watching All the President's Men. Yikes.


Kerry Washington plays political crisis management fixer Olivia Pope on ABC's Scandal, set in Washington, D.C. Many storylines in Shonda Rhimes' hit show have run parallel to the current election campaign: The former First Lady runs for president and a billionnaire businessman with no filter decides to run in the Republican race. Rhimes, the creator and executive producer, insists the election was following her show, not the other way around, which makes the similarities even more creepy.


It's very possible you need a good laugh by now and that's where Veep comes in. There's a reason Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Vice President-turned-President Selina Meyer, has won multiple Emmys for her role in this clever political comedy series.

"I think that Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics," Louis-Dreyfus said during her acceptance speech for outstanding lead actress in a comedy at the Primetime Emmy Awards in September. "Our show started out as a political satire, but now feels more like a sobering documentary."

The West Wing

This Aaron Sorkin-created political drama series that ran from 1999-2006 made viewers want to learn more about politics. It humanized life in the White House and made a lot of us believe Martin Sheen would make a great president. Yes, it mixed professional and private lives to stay interesting, but the highly critically acclaimed series also did something completely different than what we're used to: It portrayed public service, political decision-making and Washington in a generally positive, uplifting and empathetic light.

House of Cards

No compilation would be complete without this dark, political Netflix drama series. Just when you think real-life politics has hit a new low, look no further than vicious Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) and cold-as-ice First Lady Claire (Robin Wright) to prove that things could be worse.