Dig into the hidden history of television with Vox's critic-at-large, Emily VanDerWerff. Each season, we explore the tragic, comedic, and occasionally world-changing stories that have marked a medium that's dominated the global conversation for the last 75 years. First up: TV's relationship with the presidency, featuring deep dives into The West Wing, 24, Veep, and more. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
Robert Stone directed the new PBS series "Chasing the Moon." It's chock full of new archival footage from the period. And behind all that footage – some fascinating stories.Stone tells Emily VanDerWerff about a very famous, very recognizable piece of footage that has been lost forever... and about the truth behind the "faking" of the moon landing.
Richard Nixon’s political career paralleled the rise of television. He discovered how TV could make or break a politician. His successes and flops set a precedent for politicians who came after him, especially Donald Trump. Both men used television to craft an electable persona, and they shared a secret weapon: one of the most powerful people in TV history, who helped Nixon and Trump shape their images.Music credits:Positive Motion by Thomas Richard Peter Howe and Stephen Christopher TaitNight Time Adventure by John Lorca and Peter James QuineyReach Out by James CopperthwaiteOngoing View (C) by Laurent DuryVoyage (A) by by Jon Lorca and Peter James QuineyRue Montclare (A) by Joe Henson, Alexis Leon Smith, and Reinould Willem Rutger FordTwo Dollar Token by Warmbody (from Blue Dot Sessions)When in the West by Landsman Duets (from Blue Dot Sessions)
While they had radically different styles and politics, Presidents Reagan and Obama had at least one thing in common: They were both masters of the small screen. We’ll explore how both presidents used the medium to communicate their message directly to their supporters, often avoiding criticism from the press along the way. Music credits:Rue Montclare (A) by Joe Henson, Alexis Leon Smith, and Reinould Willem Rutger FordPositive Motion by Thomas Richard Peter Howe and Stephen Christopher TaitVengeful by Warmbody (from Blue Dot Sessions)Night Time Adventure by John Lorca and Peter James QuineyVoyage (a) by Jon Lorca and Peter James Quiney
In May 1992, the TV character Murphy Brown gave birth to a baby boy. The following day, Vice President Dan Quayle publicly blamed Brown for "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice." But Murphy Brown wasn’t the first single mom on TV, or the first pregnant character to wrestle with whether to have a baby. Other shows tackled more controversial issues like abortion decades earlier. We look back at the feud between a sitcom character and a real politician to find out what that fight tells us about our culture, in 1992 and today.Music credits:Reach Out by James CopperthwaiteMurphy Brown Theme by Steve DorffVoyage (A) by by Jon Lorca and Peter James QuineyA Most Quiet Season by Richard BoneRue Montclare (A) by Joe Henson, Alexis Leon Smith, and Reinould Willem Rutger FordWhen in the West by Landsman Duets (from Blue Dot Sessions)Two Dollar Token by Warmbody (from Blue Dot Sessions)Kitten by Podington BearConstructions (B) by John Devereuax
Fictional women in power on TV have a lot in common with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Characters on The Good Wife, Scandal, House of Cards, Commander in Chief — the list goes on and on. On this episode, we examine these characters to find out what they reveal about us and our attitudes toward powerful women in the real world.Music credits: “Sugar Frosting” by Charlotte Lucy Glasson, Peter Michael Ludlam, and Hans Hummer“Soothe” by Bodytonic (from Blue Dot Sessions)“Going Forward Looking Back” by Podington Bear“New Connection” by Bob Bradley and Thomas Richard Balmforth“Solidarity” by Podington Bear“A Most Quiet Season” by Richard Bone“Bear Kitten” by Podington Bear
24 premiered less than two months after the 9/11 terror attacks. That timing — and the show’s subject matter — affected the way a lot of important people, at the highest levels of United States government, think about terrorism, torture, and America’s role in the world. Music credits: “Pythagoras” by Podington Bear“24 Theme” by Sean Callery“Going Forward Looking Back” by Podington Bear“Ongoing View (C)" by Laurent Dury“Voyage (A)” by Jon Lorca and Peter James Quiney“New Connection” by Bob Bradley and Thomas Richard Balmforth“A Most Quiet Season” by Richard Bone“Two Dollar Token” by Warmbody (from Blue Dot Sessions)“Soothe” by Bodytonic (from Blue Dot Sessions)“Primetime Theme” by Brandon McFarland
When The West Wing was on the air, during the Clinton and Bush years, a lot of liberal viewers were pining for a Democratic president with a strong sense of right and wrong — someone like President Bartlet. His fictional administration made for great entertainment, an idealistic vision of what politics could be. But the show’s idealism was decidedly white — and mostly male. It also obscured a very real partisan divide.Music credits: Voyage (a) by Jon Lorca and Peter James QuineyPrimetime Theme Music by Brandon McFarland A Most Quiet Season by Richard BoneHot Air Balloon by Jon Lorca and Peter James QuineyTwo Dollar Token by Warmbody (from Blue Dot Sessions)Rue Montclare (a) by Joe Henson, Alexis Leon Smith, and Reinould Willem Rutger FordSoothe by Bodytonic (from Blue Dot Sessions)Constructions (B) by John DevereauxNight Time Adventure by John Lorca and Peter James QuineyWhen in the West by Landsman Duets (from Blue Dot Sessions)
Welcome to Primetime, a podcast about the power of television and how it affects and reflects our culture. In the first season, host Todd VanDerWerff, Vox’s critic at large, explores the American presidency on TV: stories about how presidents have used TV to further their political ambitions, and how TV has used the presidency to achieve its own goals. From Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network, Primetime premieres Thursday, May 9. Subscribe to the show for free in your favorite podcast app.Music: Restive by Anthony W. MawerRue Montclare by Joe Henson, Alexis Leon Smith, and Reinould Willem Rutger FordFalcon Hood (Tight) by Podington Bear