Watch It: If You Believe in Good Government

July 4, 2018

A July 4th edition of our blog series that curates pop culture storylines for changemakers

As we celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence, there’s no better time to reflect on exactly what good government looks like. Sure, there have always been depictions of bad government (House of Cards and Scandal, anyone?).

But this Independence Day, why not revel in all the good that government can do?

If you’re advocating for good government — like ending partisan gerrymandering or protecting voting rights — these TV shows and movies may inspire you. Go beyond a binge-watch and write a short Facebook post about how this film reflects the government you’re working toward.

You post your take. Your followers share it. Their followers who align with your way of thinking repost and now know who they should support.

At AndACTION, we believe nonprofits can leverage pop culture to spark positive change, including creating social norms and challenging the status quo. Try this strategy and let us know how it goes for you.

The West Wing
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more

Given the number of people working in politics who say this show inspired their career choices, its place at the top of our list should come as no surprise. More than a civics lesson, The West Wing shows how bipartisanship can prevail in our two-party system — even as both parties push for their own policies. Especially timely right now is Season 5, Episode 17: “The Supremes” is about Democrats and Republicans working together to find a balanced solution to filling a Supreme Court vacancy.

Madam Secretary
CBS, Netflix, iTunes, Google Play and more

We’ve long been fans of this show for the way it weaves in current events and depicts diplomacy and democracy at their finest. Having just wrapped up its fourth season, Madam Secretary combines political intrigue with the personal challenges of Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord and her family, a good example of how pop culture can increase empathy because it shows that everyone in politics is a person, too.

iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video and more

Go back to where it all began, with the movie version of the musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Frequently airing on TV and cable this time of year, it’s an entertaining reminder that the road to bipartisan agreement has never been without its twists and turns — which is exactly how the Founding Fathers designed it.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and more

If you’re looking for an infusion of optimism, look no further. This Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart tells the tale of an idealistic new U.S. senator who sets out to serve his country — and, when faced with a corrupt system, is determined to fight for fairness. This is another movie that’s often aired on TV and cable this time of year.

Parks and Recreation
Netflix, FXX, Amazon Prime Video and more

Speaking of idealism, does a depiction of good government get any better than this? Frequently silly and often sweet, this popular series starring Amy Poehler shows how small-town public officials work together to make their community the best it can be. Re-runs are currently airing on cable, or you can binge the entire series if you want to stay out of the heat over the holiday.

This is the second installment of WATCH IT, an ongoing series highlighting TV shows and movies that address a social issue or topical theme. For guidance on putting these storylines to work, check out some of our tips on using pop culture in social change communications. You can also contact us at to learn more about how your organization can use pop culture in its communications.

– By Amy Lynn Smith for AndACTION