Decision '08: The liberal media strikes back
So it shouldn't be surprising that the majority of lead TV protagonists often embody a more liberal point of view. But does that make them great characters? You be the judge.
Here are our picks for the Democratic TV character primary. (Voting is still open for the Republican primary, by the way. Just click here and break the current tie between Cartman and Alex P. Keaton!)
Candidate #1: Carrie Bradshaw, "Sex and the City"
Carrie Bradshaw may know good sex, but what’s her favorite position on politics? Ms. Bradshaw — who famously refused to, er, “shower” a politician-boyfriend would probably vote for the party of J.F.K because she appreciates Jackie O’s style. In this post-woman’s lib world, Carrie’s old-fashioned romanticism and political apathy don’t strike true with old-school feminists, but there’s no chance this single (now married) gal would approve of abstinence-only education. (I’m betting, though, that Mr. Big is probably a member of the Grand Olde Party). Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, probably would have been convinced by fellow liberal Miranda to vote for Hillary Clinton, but there’s no doubt she’d support the Democratic nominee. After all, she’s pro-choice, pro-rent control and pro-spending. If that isn’t the hallmark of a Dem, what is?
Candidate #2: Cliff Huxtable, "The Cosby Show"
Now we didn’t just pick our next candidate because it just so happens we have the first black presidential candidate. In many ways, Cliff Huxtable and the Huxtable clan depict a Reagan-tastic vision of nuclear family values, but the continuous theme that Cliff and Claire promote in their household is one of love and tolerance. Hippies if we ever saw 'em. First of all, Cliff’s a feminist. He’s a gynecologist/obstetrician who clearly doesn’t wear the pants in the house and he's OK with that. Although Cliff isn’t a fan of spending money — in fact, he’s notoriously stingy when his children ask for more — he pushes all his children to attend college and expects them to. Then there’s the obvious point that he participated in the 1963 March on Washington and never fails to remind his brood what his generation had to fight to attend college, vote and become equals. Cliff’s a blue-dog Democrat, a fiscal conservative whose social values lean left.
Candidate #3: Roseanne Connor, "Roseanne"
Blue collar? Check. Lower middle class? Check. Delusions of winning the lottery for an entire painful season? Unfortunately, check. Roseanne Connor and family reflected an America most people were familiar with, but had never seen presented to them on their TV screens. Two working parents, money problems, family fighting, loose-meat sandwiches — it all added up to one of the most realistic sitcoms ever produced. The Connors dealt with everyday social issues like alcoholism, teen pregnancy, domestic abuse, and never sugar-coated it. Over the course of nine seasons — eight if you don't count that surreal lottery season — Roseanne quit one job over a dispute with management, took odd jobs here and there to pay bills, and opened two small businesses. And through it all, she never lost her ability to speak her mind, making her one of the first lead female characters to be able to express herself without caring about what anyone thinks.
Candidate #4: Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, "M*A*S*H"
Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce isn’t in the army for the food or the discipline. With his Hawaiian shirts, fondness for practical jokes and his love of moonshine gin, the boozy but good doctor from Crabapple Cove, Maine is the 4077th M*A*S*H unit’s very own anti-war peacenik. Drafted into the army medical corps, Hawkeye, played with easy-going charm by Alan Alda, has no love for chain-of-command. In fact, he writes a heartfelt letter to President Harry S. Truman (also a Democrat) complaining about the war and army bureaucracy. But he’s no morality police. Rarely does Hawkeye chide any of his married cohorts for cavorting in supply closets with the nurses — unless they happen to conflict with his own desires. Hawkeye is the independent Democrat who questions authority, deplores pointless violence and wants to peacefully (without any interference from the government or others) live his life.
Candidate #5: Murphy Brown, "Murphy Brown"
Long before she became political fodder for Republican Vice President Dan Quayle in a weird TV-meets reality world, Murphy Brown (the brilliant Candice Bergen) lovingly recalls getting maced at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The recovering alcoholic and television reporter’s love for Motown is only rivaled by her pleasure in skewering politicians on fake TV news show “FYI.” Difficult, sarcastic, troublesome and flawed, Murphy is the Mary Richards of the 1990s, if Mary had smoked a lot of pot and had a cranky muralist named Eldin living with her for almost a decade. Even without Quayle’s attack on her single momhood, Murphy’s do-it-for-the-small-guy and socially progressive attitudes on the show mark her as a hippie — er — Democrat. But it must be noted that Murphy is banned from both the Bush and the Clinton administrations — proof that reporters can be critical despite their personal political feelings.
Candidate #6: Homer Simpson, "The Simpsons"
We know what you're thinking: No way would Homer Simpson ever care about politics, let alone belong to a particular party. But we believe Homer would be a blue-stater (even if we still don't know which state he lives in) all the way, and we offer the following clip — from the series' upcoming annual Halloween episode — as evidence:
Next up: The third parties! Check back next week!
— Malavika Jagannathan, firstname.lastname@example.org, Adam Reinhard, email@example.com