Seven ingenious political satires on Netflix
Malcolm Tucker

In an age where genuine news headlines can often be mistaken for satirical spoofs, it’s getting harder and harder for comedy creatives to adequately parody the political machine.

Yet many are continuing to rise to the challenge, while long-established classics continue to be relevant today.

Here are seven TV shows and movies – available to watch now on Netflix UK – which evoke laughter and provoke thought in equal measure.

Look Who’s Back

Look Who's Back

David Wnendt’s provocative film plunges a confused Adolf Hitler into today’s Germany – where he soon becomes an internet and TV sensation.

Actor Oliver Masucci must have had some serious bottle to engage in Borat-style interactions with real, everyday Germans while in full Fuhrer mode. These scenes provide most of the biggest laughs, but they also expose simmering anti-immigrant feeling, widespread resentment, and disillusionment with mainstream politics in general among the populace.

This aspect, coupled with a scathing commentary on populist politicians and the parallels explicitly drawn between 1930s Europe and the modern day, evoke a powerful sense of unease alongside the hilarity.

Donald Trump’s The Art Of The Deal

Johnny Depp trump

Johnny Depp (yes, that really is him) has an absolute blast taking on the Republican candidate for US President, in this 50-minute special from irreverent spoof specialists Funny Or Die.

Capturing and puncturing the essence of Trump’s bullish ego, bizarre outbursts and often eyebrow-raising world view, it certainly doesn’t pull any comic punches. But perhaps the worrying thing is how, when aligned alongside the man’s real-life campaign, the farcical fiction is arguably less damning than the recent reality.

Dr Strangelove

Dr Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick’s iconic masterpiece manages that rare feat of being hilarious and terrifying in equal measure, as a preposterous series of events (and rampant stupidity) set the world on a path to nuclear annihilation.

While the 1964 classic perfectly sums up the madness of Cold War policy on both sides of the planet, more than 50 years on it also remains all-too relevant for its withering commentary on confused officials, dithering bureaucrats, and the dangerous fallibility of the systems and policies they put in place.

Peter Sellers is on career-best comic form too; shifting from manic slapstick to deadpan genius in his beautifully varied, multi-part performance.

Team America: World Police

Team America

Vulgar, outrageous and very, very funny, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone take the ignorant failings of post 9/11 Western foreign policy to task, but still find time to bash liberal protesters along the way.

Ultimately summing up its message with an unforgettable anatomical metaphor, the real genius is packaging the political gags in a note-perfect spoof of big dumb Hollywood blockbusters.

It almost seems nostalgic now (remember when there was a different despotic Kim Jong ruling North Korea?), but its scathing message still hits home, alongside the gleefully gross puppet sex, vomiting, and unbelievably catchy songs of course.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay

The dystopian ‘young adult’ action saga revels in its occasionally disturbing depictions of oppressive dictatorship and media exploitation, but Mockingjay: Part 1 is a genuinely interesting proposition.

The quietest of the movie series, with far less combat and survival sequences than the other instalments, its main focus is actually on propaganda, and the tactics both sides wield in order to sway public opinion and strengthen their cause.

Watching our hero Katniss become a pawn of the rebellion, as ruthless despot President Snow gears up his own media machine, is fascinating stuff.

House Of Cards

House Of Cards Robin Wright

The scheming nature of top-tier politics has reached its dramatic peak in these machiavellian character pieces, detailing the dreadful lengths some will go to in order to reach their chosen seat of power.

Both the modern US series and original UK classic are available on the streaming service, allowing you to choose whether to revel in the backstabbing escapades of Frank and Claire Underwood, or original British anti-hero Francis Urquhart (the magnificent Ian Richardson).

The Thick Of It

The Thick of It

Armando Iannucci’s sublime skewering of modern Westminster and Whitehall, and the media machine around it, pulls no punches in its lampooning of clueless career politicians, misjudged policy cock-ups, and the gibbering underlings left to pick up the pieces.

Spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, the fierce embodiment of an age of politics where the truth matters less than the public message, remains an inspired comic creation. His inventive, outrageous swearing is just one colourful reason to give this your undivided attention.

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