Primetime

Primetime

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.

Episodes

July 18, 2019 39 min
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adcho...
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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 Motio...
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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 M...
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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 abort...
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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 Body...
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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 ...
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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 credit...
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April 29, 2019 2 min
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....
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