If you’re like me, you love animation! And if you’re also like me, you love politics (if you also love sharks, then we are simpatico my friend!). Tonight, you might need a break from election coverage, and need a well, well deserved laugh. Here’s The Klute’s list of the best animated shows about politics and elections!
10. “Red Dawn”, Sealab 2021
In this fantastic send up of the Cold War politics, communism, paranoia, and the movies Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove, the commander of the Sealab research station declares communism the law of the sea, and accidentally declares war on the United States. From Murphy’s literal take on Orwell’s Animal Farm to White Debbie’s seduction of all the Kennedys, it hits all the notes on the great conflict of the back half of the 20th Century.
Money quote: “Holy Crap! Did you see that? The damn phone just melted spontaneously!” – Captain Murphy
9. “Black Mystery Month”, American Dad!
So, those National Treasure/Da Vinci Code movies. You know, the ones where they add a conspiracy theory to a historical event that only some uniquely charismatic antiquarian has not only the intelligence, but the physical prowess to unravel the treachery? This is one of those deals. Except unlike those movies, it’s not stultifyingly dull. This conspiracy involves murder, Burger King, Abraham Lincoln, Grover Cleveland (America’s greatest president, per Stan Smith), George Washington Carver, and America’s first strip club. It’s fun from start to finish, a shows how much better a show American Dad! is over Seth MacFarlane’s other vehicle, Family Guy.
Money quote: “What’s to investigate? The brother invented peanut butter! Now write it down and spread it across 10 pages!” – Principal Byron Lewis
8. “Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington”, The Simpsons
There are so many fantastic political episodes of The Simpsons. You could do a whole list of JUST Simpsons episodes and not have room for anything else. This, however, is a big, big favorite of mine because it focuses on Krusty the Klown, America’s favorite lecherous, alcoholic, illiterate clown. Episodes with Krusty are usually great. From photoshopping Krusty’s head into the famous shot of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination to the barely-parody of Fox News, even if you’re not a fan of latter-day Simpsons, this one should be on your must-watch list.
Money quote: “This is Kent Brockman with a special live report from the headquarters of Krusty opponent John Armstrong. How can I prove we’re live? Penis.” – Kent Brockman, Channel 6 News
7. “Look Who’s Purging Now”, Rick and Morty
As the Purge movies themselves are barely concealed social commentary with blood and gore as the table dressing, this episode of Rick and Morty follows the source material to barely make a social commentary at the end, a 1% vs 99% riff/revenge fantasy set to “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Toné!. With the way this goddamned election has been going, you’ll get a visceral thrill as Rick, Morty, and guest companion Arthricia mow dow both the oppressed and oppressors alike and feel like you’re right back at home when at the end, nothing really changes.
Money Quote: “Huh! You like that?!? You want me to cut to three weeks earlier when you were still alive!?!” – Morty Smith
6. “Decision 3012”, Futurama
Futurama is another one of those shows where you’re spoiled for choice for great political episodes, from “A Head in the Polls” to “A Taste of Freedom”, but this later effort by the show resonates in this election with it’s merciless skewering of Obama conspiracy theories, time travel, and of course, Richard Nixon, a supervillain in any millennium. If there’s a beginning to the political satires going after Trump and Trumpism, it started here.
Money quote: “Thank you, Senator. A thoughtful and lucid answer. YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!!!” – Morbo
5. “About Last Night…”, South Park
I’m not the biggest fan of South Park’s crudity, I think they go for the dick/fart jokes as a fall back for when they don’t know how to advance the plot, but their political acumen is pretty goddamn sharp. From episodes like “Douche and Turd” to “Goobacks”, they know how to present their case, make you laugh, piss you off a little bit, make you question your position, and then make you laugh again. This send up of heist films features a sexy jewel thief Sarah Palin, a John McCain who you might actually like, and a Barack Obama that proves no matter what universe Barack Obama is in, you just want to see him win. And it shows how ridiculous we are as voters, one half thinking it’s a party, the other thinking it’s an apocalypse. Also, it features raging asshole Randy Marsh, who next to Krusty the Klown, is one of my favorite animated jagoffs.
Money quote: “Oh hello Marsh!” – Randy’s Boss “Oh yeah, you know what? FUCK YOU! It’s OK Stan, everything’” – Randy Marsh
4. “Blackwatch Plaid”, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
One of the more obscure shows on the list, and one of the more obscure episodes, this one really drives home the paranoia that Americans felt during the Bush Administration’s execution of the War on Terror and how many Americans still feel that paranoia post-Edward Snowden’s revelations about how things in America, like on Rick and Morty’s Purge planet, when they change, they stay the same. Plus it’s heavy on Stephen Colbert’s Phil Ken Sebben character, the most anarchic fascist you’ll ever meet.
Money quote: “Every conversation is scanned for key words. Here, give me your phone, I’ll show you. Hello. Mail bomb. Assassination. Fertilizer. Same-sex marriages. Patagonia. Nader… for… President.” – Myron Reducto
3. “All the Duke’s Men”, The Critic
Dear God, how I love this episode. It’s The Critic’s only really overt political episode but goddamn does it pack so much of the 90s landscape into 30 minutes, from the rise of cable news to the force it has become, to the collapse of the feel-good Clinton-era. There’s enough in here to watch several times, from the re-purposing of an animatronic Hillbilly Bear into the Hall of Presidents, to Duke Phillips superliminal messaging hidden in movie reviews, to Franklin Sherman, the insane, New England patriarch who would be Vice President (and really, COULD he be worse than Rufus DeVane King who died in Cuba shortly after taking office?). It’s an insanely quotable episode (I still use “Now let’s rob that bank!” on at least a weekly basis). Watch it.
Money quote: “As the first black female head of the Ku Klux Klan, I’d like to say ‘America stinks!’” – Franklin Sherman
2. “It’s a Black President, Huey Freeman”, The Boondocks
There’s literally too much to unpack in this fantastic, fantastic episode, what many people consider to be the zenith of the series (the less said about season 4, the better). From the “Dick Riding Obama” music video (with dancing George Clooney!), Uncle Ruckus (no relation) doing his best Herman Cain/Ben Carson stand-in, Grandad trying to leverage his work in the Civil Rights Movement to get cherry seats at the inauguration, and the thread through this is Werner Herzog’s hypnotic narration which brings the episode into the world where we met the Obama of reality vs the Obama that only existed in everyone’s minds (that being said, I still think Obama was pretty great).
Money quote: “So then, now that it looks like Obama is going to win, as a black African negro, are you merely excited, or are you extremely excited that everything is going to change forever?” – Werner Herzog
“Ehh.” – Huey Freeman
1. “Sideshow Bob Roberts”, The Simpsons
One of the greatest political parodies ever animated, “Sideshow Bob Roberts” is peak Simpsons. It features the return of Sideshow Bob, the series second best villain (only second to former gubernatorial candidate C. Montgomery Burns), excellent throw away bits (we’re still dealing with the bats in the public library), callbacks, and perfect one-liners, plus a plot that is plausibly terrifying in today’s world of celebrity driven candidacies that threaten the very fabric of society. Looking at you, Cheeto Jesus.
Money quote: “That was a big mistake, Bart. No children have ever meddled with the Republican Party and lived to tell about it.” – Sideshow Bob Roberts
That’s it! What do you think? What did I miss? What did you agree with? Let me know in the comments.