Love or hate him, and there's plenty of people on either side, the 45th president of the United States had a huge impact on the world in 2017. The craziness that led to Donald Trump being elected has extended into his term in office and the commander in chief is continuing to influence much more than the world of politics. One medium in particular where Trump has had sway is the platform that helped him rise to fame, TV. Trump has had a huge impact on TV in 2017 as there are multiple ways that his presidency and personality have crafted the stories, characters or behind-the-scenes decisions of several shows across various networks. Here are 7 ways President Trump influenced television in 2017.
This is a much more harmless example than most. While opinions about Trump range among the American public, TV as a whole hasn't been kind to the 45th president. In any case, the popularity of Trump as just a spectacle allowed one act to make it farther than he had a right to in America's Got Talent season 12.
The Singing Trump was as self-explanatory and one-note as an act can possibly be on America's Got Talent. A man, whose real name was never revealed on the show, impersonated Donald Trump and performed increasingly cheesy musical numbers. It's an act that really shouldn't have lasted beyond auditions but because President Trump was constantly in the news, The Singing Trump advanced and advanced until eventually he reached the Live Shows. Mercifully he didn't go far after that point. However, The Singing Trump's existence and success on America's Got Talent is almost solely based on the impact of his real-life counterpart.
Hollis Doyle on Scandal
As much as Scandal mastermind Shonda Rhimes
claimed that Trump had no impact on Scandal
season 6, that's not entirely true. Although the recent presidential election on Scandal
didn't have a Trump-like figure win the election, there was a political figure who was oddly reminiscent of Trump.
Hollis Doyle's appearances in Scandal season 5 and season 6 took on avery Trump-like tone as Doyle was brash, outspoken and incredibly controversial. The Trump connection was all the more surprising (and obvious) since Doyle first appeared as early as Scandal season 2. Even though Doyle didn't appear much in 2017, his impact and his Trump-like personality was felt throughout.
While Doyle was certainly the biggest Trump influence, there were other elements of Scandal that seemed particularly relevant in the Trump era. The fact that Scandal beat America to the punch when it came to electing a female president, Mellie Grant, was not entirely coincidental. Mellie Grant might not have defeated a Trump-like opponent to win her presidency but Scandal always seems keenly aware of Grant's similarities to Trump's actual competition, Hillary Clinton.
Nearly Everything About American Horror Story: Cult
Season 7 of American Horror Story ended up going its own way, with original characters and a creepy murderous group of clowns. There was no direct Donald Trump analogue, although Evan Peters' Kai did have some similarities. However, Cult still began with the 2016 election and was heavily politicized through its 10-episode run.
The eponymous cult had its own twists and turns, but there were still obvious references, messages and character motivations aimed directly at viewing public with Trump as president. Cult, like most American Horror Story iterations, became more about rampant murder than anything else. But Trump's election, and the show's vehement opposition to it, were very much a part of Cult's DNA.
The Return of Will & Grace
In 2017, Will & Grace was the latest beloved sitcom to receive a reboot / revival. A huge factor in Will & Grace returning to TV was, in fact, Donald Trump. The cast first reunited in 2016 during the election when they filmed a mostly anti-Trump PSA urging people to vote. The video proved to be so popular and well-received that a revival was almost immediately green-lit.
In the revival season itself, the jokes about or at Trump's expense were far fewer than the election PSA, which is to be expected. But jokes about Trump are still very much present, as Will & Grace has almost always worn its politics on its sleeve. Most Will & Grace fans might not have much love for Trump but in a weird way they have him to thank for the show's return.
The World of The Handmaid's Tale
It's true that The Handmaid's Tale is based on a 1985 book. The book was written long before Trump became President or was even hosting The Apprentice for that matter. Still, in the move from page to screen Hulu's Handmaid's Tale definitely incorporated some influences from Trump's America.
This was particularly evident in the show's use of flashbacks, showing the world before it fell into the dystopian future with the handmaids and their commanders. It's a period that's only vaguely defined in the book. So to flesh it out, The Handmaid's Tale made Offred's world before its fall look and feel very similar to American under Trump, even if everything was kept vague and generalized.
Saturday Night Live's Renaissance
Saturday Night Live has always had fun with politics and typically their material around election season is some of their best. However, SNL has kept the ball rolling since the election with Trump's antics as president. If there's anyone who is truly profiting from the Trump Presidency it's the writing room over at Saturday Night Live.
There's not an episode of the sketch comedy show that doesn't touch on Trump in some way, and it's all highly-focused and sharply written comedy. Alec Baldwin's portrayal of Trump is obviously one of SNL's big highlights in 2017 but the show has had a lot more fun with the president than just having an A-lister mercilessly poke fun at him. Trump's presidency and his cabinet has allowed a number of other (regular) cast members to shine, particularly Kate McKinnon as Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Before Trump, Saturday Night Live was struggling to make an impact (or cause laughter.) The show was flirting dangerously close to irrelevance. Now, though, Saturday Night Live has been given new life, specifically in targeting its favorite presidential punching bag. That passion has bled out to all areas, allowing the show to become much more clever and energetic than it's been in years.
The Barrage of Late Night Discussion
Saturday Night Live isn't the only late-night series that used Trump as comedic fodder. Nearly every late night host, with the exception of Jimmy Fallon, has taken regular time out of their talk shows to skewer Trump. Seth Meyers has his regular segment "A Closer Look," which comedically looks at the (Trump) news of the day. Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert have both delivered long, political, anti-Trump monologues frequently. James Corden finds ways to slyly poke fun at Trump even if he isn't quite as passionate as the others.
It's not just the late night hosts of the big three networks who are occupied with Trump. The Daily Show continues to go after the president in the most humorous way it can manage. Meanwhile, Daily Show spritual spin-offs Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight are almost entirely about politics.
The weirdest and most Trumpian late night bashing might be Comedy Central's The President Show. Comedian Anthony Atamanuik does a pitch-perfect impression of Trump but presents him as just one of the late night hosts who are constantly making fun of him. It's one long joke that's spread out to many episodes with no real sign of stopping just yet.
Did we miss any other major ways Trump affected TV in 2017? Was there too much Trump on TV?
(Images courtesy of ABC, Hulu, NBC and FX, video courtesy of NBC)