Intrigue! Pantsuits! Devilry behind closed doors! The occasional dose of Latin philosophizing! Politics as TV fodder is a tale as old as the late-20th century. Beginning in the '30s with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hollywood enjoyed skewering that powerful force on the other side of the country. The stories were all vaguely similar: An idealistic fellow (often a man) would venture to Washington, D.C., only to find himself corrupted by the promise of sweet, sweet power. There was All the King's Men in 1949 and A Face in the Crowd in 1957. Later, there was All The President's Men. All of them were "gritty" and "tough," and most of them earned awards attention. It wasn't really until the late '90s that politics came to TV. Once it arrived, though, it swept the nation. Politics are a modern-day Colosseum where outward anger is repressed and betrayal is not. When it comes to politics, it's a dog-eat-bloodied heart world.
This is why House of Cards, one of Netflix's first original shows, was so successful. Daring to an almost unwieldy degree, the show gave us characters who would turn to the camera and divulge the "truth" about politics. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) openly admitted to his misdeeds, but he did so knowing that it was all for the eventual gain. He was taking a lot of L's for that long-con W. House of Cards, now with new lead Robin Wright, reached its tail end recently, with Netflix releasing all episodes of the sixth season.
HoC may be over, but the race for best political show is not. Ahead, all the political TV shows — some set in Washington, others in high school — ranked. The best will float to the top. The rest will fall, like Rome! And hey — they're still all better than what's happening in Washington right now.