The Circus

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Circus TV Poster Image
Solid docu probes 2016 election, tries to be unbiased.

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

Positive Messages

The 2016 political race was historically unique. Politics are strategic, often frustrating, painstakingly slow, and can be very nasty. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Politicians (and presidents) don’t always say or do nice things. 


Lots of insults and accusations; a publicized reference to sexual assault. Gun policy an issue. Political discussions about terrorism, Isis, the war in Syria, and other violent events. 


Some sexual innuendo, including crude comments like “pussy” and references to infidelity. 


“S--t,” “f--k.” 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, beer sometimes visible over meals. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Circus is a non-partisan documentary series that focuses on the 2016 presidential election and the beginning of the Trump Administration. It contains some cursing and innuendo, including highly publicized crude references made by Donald Trump. There are discussions about terrorism, the war in Syria, and other violent events. Drinking is occasionally visible. It’s OK for teens, but unless they’re interested in politics, they probably won’t be too excited about it. 

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What's the story?

THE CIRCUS: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH is a documentary series that chronicles political events during and after the 2016 Presidential election cycle. It features Bloomberg Politics contributors Mark Halperin and John Heinemann, and long-time political strategist and advisor Mark McKinnon as they document and discuss political events as they actually unfold. They also interview key political figures to get a better understanding of what was going on behind the scenes during this time. It follows early candidates like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail, and takes a critical look at the contentious race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump while it is unfolding. Notable events during the President’s first 100 days in office, including the Republican leadership’s failed attempt at repealing and replacing the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the successful confirmation of a new justice to the Supreme Court, are also examined. Throughout it all, it also sheds light on the public perceptions of the candidates, President Trump, and what is transpiring in US politics. 

Is it any good?

This interesting, non-partisan series highlights the key moments and people that make the 2016 Presidential race one of the most unique elections in US history. It delves into the campaigns of the political outsiders who participated in the process, Donald Trump’s controversial campaign, and Hillary Clinton’s efforts to become the first female US president. How the Trump administration is dealing with divisive issues like healthcare reform and fighting terrorism abroad are examined. Meanwhile, the more colorful issues that are defining President Trump’s presidency, including making unfounded wire tapping claims against Barack Obama and alleged ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.

It’s mostly unbiased in its approach, thanks to intelligent (though often brief) conversations with a wide-range of Republican and Democratic political players, including Senator Bernie Sanders, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and conservative TV personalities like Ana Navarro and Joe Scarborough. However, it may not seem that way, given that it is also documenting much of the controversy and chaos that characterizes Trump’s political career. Nonetheless, regardless of your feelings about these politics, The Circus offers an honest look at the powerful, strategic, painstaking, and often frustrating American political process. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about US elections. What does someone have to do to run for Congress, or to run for President? What kind of work do you have to do in order to win? Does The Circus do a good job of showing the process?

  • There’s a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding US presidential elections. But is running for the highest office of the country glamorous? What is it really like to campaign for votes?

  • The media plays a vital role in the US Presidential elections. But why is it so negative?  What case does The Circus make about the media’s role in the 2016 elections? Looking to the future, do you think there should be changes in the way the media covers the electoral process?

TV details

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For kids who love news and politics

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