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Scott D. Pierce: Obama's TV choices are cause for concern

Published January 2, 2014 7:42 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As someone who covers television for a living, I am somewhat concerned about what the president of the United States watches.

Drawing from various sources, not directly from Barack Obama, The New York Times reported the following eight shows are his favorites:

• "Boardwalk Empire"

• "Breaking Bad"

• "Downton Abbey"

• "Game of Thrones"

• "Homeland"

• "House of Cards"

• "Modern Family"

• "Parks and Recreation"

They're all good shows. Some are great shows. Half are on my 2013 top-10 list; all of them were among those I considered.

Obama has good taste in television shows.

(By the way, this is a TV column. This is by no stretch of the imagination about politics or policy.)

No matter who occupies the White House, we should not begrudge him/her a bit of downtime in front of the TV. We all need to relax, and watching television is America's favorite way to do that.

Hey, it would be un-American if the president didn't watch TV.

And there's something kind of charming about the idea of Obama sitting down and getting a laugh out of "Modern Family" and "Parks and Recreation." Or getting caught up in the soap opera that is "Downton Abbey."

But the president has the ultimate high-pressure job. He deals with crisis after crisis; he does battle with political opponents; he makes life-and-death decisions.

The majority of the shows on that list are hardly a respite from his regular life. They're filled with ruthless people doing cruel things.

You could argue that the only real difference from "Breaking Bad" to "Homeland," from "Boardwalk Empire" to "House of Cards" to "Game of Thrones" is in the specifics of the barbaric behavior. Congressman Underwood (Kevin Spacey) didn't have anyone shot or beheaded in "House of Cards," but he would have if he'd been a character in "Boardwalk Empire" or "Game of Thrones."

And Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would have fit right in on "Homeland."

Somehow, I'd feel better if President Obama were watching "The Big Bang Theory," "The Goldbergs" or "Trophy Wife." Light-hearted shows that would let him escape from his troubles.

Or maybe "Scandal," which operates in a completely different universe. Wouldn't you love to watch the real president watch President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) when a Supreme Court justice has him shot? When Grant smothers that justice in return? When Grant's vice president stabs her unfaithful, gay husband to death in the Naval Observatory and the White House chief of staff covers it up?

It's hilarious, escapist TV that has nothing to do with reality.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.