7 Streaming Political Docs To Make You Feel a Tiny Bit Better About 2016

Good news, America! There are only only a few days left before one of the most acrid, acidic, off-putting presidential elections in modern history finally collapses into a sure-to-be-unsatisfying end. But if you thought 2016 was tough, there are decades worth ofcampaign documentariestoremind usthat, as bad as things have been this year, American electoral politics has pretty much always been a big-bucks muck-fest. We found the sevenbest available on streaming, socheck them out while you can, and cheer upafter all, there are only 48 months left until our next presidential election!

Weiner (2016)

What more can we say about this shotgun-seat journey through the failed mayoral campaign of pecs-sexting, bulge-baring, one-man pun-generator Anthony Weiner? In the months since its release, Weinermuch like Weiner himselfhas only grown both more pressing andmore depressing, making it a sadly of-the-moment snapshot of circa-2016 politics. Just be careful who you email about it afterwards. (Available on Amazon Video and Hulu, with a Showtime subscription)

What more can we say about this shotgun-seat journey through the failed mayoral campaign of pecs-sexting, bulge-baring, one-man pun-generator Anthony Weiner? In the months since its release, Weinermuch like Weiner himselfhas only grown both more pressing andmore depressing, making it a sadly of-the-moment snapshot of circa-2016 politics. Just be careful who you email about it afterwards. (Available on Amazon Video and Hulu, with a Showtime subscription)

A Perfect Candidate (1996)

A sort of spiritual sequel to The War Room (below), this equally up-close account of Oliver North’s 1994 U.S. Senate run focuses on North’s advisers, who employ countless spins and stunts to help transform their cult-of-personality candidatea vacuous, off-brand demagogueinto a viable contender. But it’s also a rich reminder of just how ugly (and prescient) things got in the mid-’90s,a period in which trumped-up culture wars overrode actual policy discussion, and in which a rightfully suspicious press corps was undermined by overly rah-rah partisan outlets. Thankfully, such days are long behind us now! (Available on Fandor)

A sort of spiritual sequel to The War Room (below), this equally up-close account of Oliver North’s 1994 U.S. Senate run focuses on North’s advisers, who employ countless spins and stunts to help transform their cult-of-personality candidatea vacuous, off-brand demagogueinto a viable contender. But it’s also a rich reminder of just how ugly (and prescient) things got in the mid-’90s,a period in which trumped-up culture wars overrode actual policy discussion, and in which a rightfully suspicious press corps was undermined by overly rah-rah partisan outlets. Thankfully, such days are long behind us now! (Available on Fandor)

The War Room (1993)

Nearly a quarter-century after its release, this instantly essential, Oscar-nominated chronicle of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign feels like a ’90s-set version of The Little Rascals: Awww, look at young George Stephanopoulos spin-and-grin his way through another post-debate TV appearance! Check out James Carville’s Southern-fried speechifying and Funky-Bunchified hat! Beneath all of that nostalgia-nudging charm, though, is a still-revealing look at the way campaign narratives are manipulated and disseminated: Watching Carville try to feed an anti-GOP story to the pressor witnessing Stephanopoulos warn calmly threaten the career of a Clinton foeis a reminder that, even in an age of 24-7 election coverage, many of the forces and decisions that shape modern politics will be kept forever from our view. (Available on Hulu through November 11th; also on iTunes and Amazon)

Nearly a quarter-century after its release, this instantly essential, Oscar-nominated chronicle of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign feels like a ’90s-set version of The Little Rascals: Awww, look at young George Stephanopoulos spin-and-grin his way through another post-debate TV appearance! Check out James Carville’s Southern-fried speechifying and Funky-Bunchified hat! Beneath all of that nostalgia-nudging charm, though, is a still-revealing look at the way campaign narratives are manipulated and disseminated: Watching Carville try to feed an anti-GOP story to the pressor witnessing Stephanopoulos warn calmly threaten the career of a Clinton foeis a reminder that, even in an age of 24-7 election coverage, many of the forces and decisions that shape modern politics will be kept forever from our view. (Available on Hulu through November 11th; also on iTunes and Amazon)

Mitt (2014)

The result of six years of filming, Mitt tags along with Republican candidate Mitt Romneya guy who could never puncture his reputation as a stiff-talking, chilly gazillionaire-botas he makes his way through the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections (both of which seem like civics lessons in civility compared to the last few months). In contrast to his public persona, Mitt depicts Mitt as a surprisingly warm, admirably cool-headed pragmatist who clearly hates seeing his family members getting dragged through the campaign. Mitt likely wouldn’t have changed voters’ minds, but it’s a reminder of the ways that the vaguely constructed “conventional wisdom” about a candidate can obscure more nuances, harder-to-distill truths. (Available on Netflix)

The result of six years of filming, Mitt tags along with Republican candidate Mitt Romneya guy who could never puncture his reputation as a stiff-talking, chilly gazillionaire-botas he makes his way through the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections (both of which seem like civics lessons in civility compared to the last few months). In contrast to his public persona, Mitt depicts Mitt as a surprisingly warm, admirably cool-headed pragmatist who clearly hates seeing his family members getting dragged through the campaign. Mitt likely wouldn’t have changed voters’ minds, but it’s a reminder of the ways that the vaguely constructed “conventional wisdom” about a candidate can obscure more nuances, harder-to-distill truths. (Available on Netflix)

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (2008)

In the ’80s, political operator Lee Atwater had it all: A prime perch in Washington, D.C.; a near-academic expertise in dirty tricks; and a close (if uncomfortable) relationship with George H.W. Bush, whom Atwater helped make president, thanks in part to the infamous, horrific Willie Horton ad. Boogie Man wrestles with Atwater’s almost comically surface-level contradictionsthis was a guy worshiped the blues, yet who was also responsible for some of most overtly racist political stagecraft of the 20th centurywhile also tactfully making the case that his motivations may lie more in empty-calorie ambition than deep-rooted ideology. It’s an engrossing, sometimes unbelievably comical look at just how far cynicism will get youwith a third-act comeuppance that has to be seen to be believed. (Available on iTunes and Amazon)

In the ’80s, political operator Lee Atwater had it all: A prime perch in Washington, D.C.; a near-academic expertise in dirty tricks; and a close (if uncomfortable) relationship with George H.W. Bush, whom Atwater helped make president, thanks in part to the infamous, horrific Willie Horton ad. Boogie Man wrestles with Atwater’s almost comically surface-level contradictionsthis was a guy worshiped the blues, yet who was also responsible for some of most overtly racist political stagecraft of the 20th centurywhile also tactfully making the case that his motivations may lie more in empty-calorie ambition than deep-rooted ideology. It’s an engrossing, sometimes unbelievably comical look at just how far cynicism will get youwith a third-act comeuppance that has to be seen to be believed. (Available on iTunes and Amazon)

Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress; four years later, in an evenboldermove, she decided to run for president on the Democratic ticket, entering one of the most heated political races of all time. (And somehowgarnering Biz Markie’s anachronistic vote.)Chisholm ’72 alternates between stirring, deeply entertaining archival footage of Chisholm at work on the campaign trailwhere she never thinks twice about calling out her opponents, even if they were fellow Democratsand retrospective interviews that were conducted before her death in 2005. Though she never got a place on the ticket, and though her campaign at times seemed spectacularly ill-advised, Chisholm forced her party (and her country) to pay attention to herand Chisholm 72forces viewers to take stock of her admirable legacy, and marvel at the intra-party obstacles she was forced to overcome. (Available on iTunes and Amazon)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress; four years later, in an evenboldermove, she decided to run for president on the Democratic ticket, entering one of the most heated political races of all time. (And somehowgarnering Biz Markie’s anachronistic vote.)Chisholm ’72 alternates between stirring, deeply entertaining archival footage of Chisholm at work on the campaign trailwhere she never thinks twice about calling out her opponents, even if they were fellow Democratsand retrospective interviews that were conducted before her death in 2005. Though she never got a place on the ticket, and though her campaign at times seemed spectacularly ill-advised, Chisholm forced her party (and her country) to pay attention to herand Chisholm 72forces viewers to take stock of her admirable legacy, and marvel at the intra-party obstacles she was forced to overcome. (Available on iTunes and Amazon)

Street Fight (2005)

Before Cory Booker was speaking at the Democratic National Convention, before he was a US Senator, before he was rescuing freezing dogshell, before he was running into a burning building to savea woman trapped insidehe was just a city councilmanrunningfor mayor of Newark against astronomical odds and an entrenched political machine. That 2002 election is the focus ofStreet Fight, a documentary chroniclingBooker’s Tommy Carcetti-like quest to overturncronyism and lead a city that didn’t quite trust him yet. Come for the look at a real-life political paladin, stay for the origin of apersonal mythology that’s made him one of hisparty’s brightest medium-term prospects.(Available on Netflix and Amazon Video)

Before Cory Booker was speaking at the Democratic National Convention, before he was a US Senator, before he was rescuing freezing dogshell, before he was running into a burning building to savea woman trapped insidehe was just a city councilmanrunningfor mayor of Newark against astronomical odds and an entrenched political machine. That 2002 election is the focus ofStreet Fight, a documentary chroniclingBooker’s Tommy Carcetti-like quest to overturncronyism and lead a city that didn’t quite trust him yet. Come for the look at a real-life political paladin, stay for the origin of apersonal mythology that’s made him one of hisparty’s brightest medium-term prospects.(Available on Netflix and Amazon Video)

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/best-political-documentaries-streaming/