Battleground

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
Battleground TV Poster Image
Hopeful political drama with some drinking, marital strife.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series presents a quasi-realistic view of local politics and political campaigns that includes the message that something good (in this case, a qualified candidate) is something worth fighting for against all odds. Also, that sacrifice is necessary but difficult when fighting the good fight. There's a message that sometimes you have to play dirty to win.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters have passion for government and for affecting change. Although their work is ultimately toward the greater good, the campaign staffers engage in occasional subterfuge to gain ground on opponents. Their lifestyle is obsessively centered around the campaign, sometimes to the detriment of their family or their health.

Violence

Occasional good-natured mocking and jokes at the expense of other characters.

Sex

Two characters have a secret romantic connection that is kept from others; they engage in heavy makeout sessions. Occasional sexual banter between characters.

Language

Occasional use of "damn" and "hell," with rare occurrence of words like "piss."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Campaign employees frequently drink heavily in social settings as part of relaxing after a hard day; occasional drug references.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary-style series isn't aimed at kids, though teens interested in politics might get something out of it. There are definitely some mixed messages in the depiction of both the idealism and harsh realities of local political campaigns. On one hand, the workers selflessly sacrifice their social lives and better salaries in favor of working tirelessly for a candidate they are passionate about. On the other hand, their lifestyle embraces occasional overindulgence in alcohol, a casual attitude toward sexual encounters, and outright deception in the name of political victory. For older kids able to understand the complexities of such a depiction, the idealism of the series shines through strongly.

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What's the story?

Set in a fictional political campaign in Wisconsin, BATTLEGROUND utilizes a mockumentary format to explore the behind-the-scenes tumult inside the world of local politics. Campaign manager Tak Davis (Jay Hayden) has to overcome endless obstacles to help his candidate advance in the polls, from a miniscule budget constantly at threat of evaporating to the occasionally amateur maneuvers of his own campaign staff. Although the challenge is great and the job seems thankless, Battleground tempers the realism of modern politics with an idealistic view of how ordinary people sacrifice their own lives toward the pursuit of a greater good -- in this case, victory for a senatorial candidate.

Is it any good?

The first original scripted series from online content provider Hulu, Battleground takes a rough but ready approach to its half-hour mockumentary format. It features unknown actors that are able to shine within the loose production style; it seems likely that the "fake documentary" approach helps cover up any possible deficiencies due to a small budget.

What Battleground lacks in network polish, it makes up in wit and spirit, using its format to cleverly suggest the evolution of characters through a series of talking-head interviews that take place four weeks after the events of the campaign. Taking a page out of The West Wing's playbook, the show delves deep into the sausage-making behind every political candidate, depicting the heady mix of frantic energy, sexual tension, occasional brilliance, and frequent exhaustion that campaign employees experience. But like The West Wing, Battleground is also hopeful about American politics and government.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the realities of modern politics. Does this series do a good job depicting a campaign? Does the show make a political campaign seem like a fun place to work? How realistic do you think it is?

  • What do you think about the show only airing online? Do you like that, or do you wish it was on network TV too?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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