President's TV picks: dark, with bit of reality

  • Updated: December 30, 2013 - 3:16 PM
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President Obama, seen through the window of his motorcade vehicle, was driven across Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay, after a morning workout on Saturday.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster • Associated Press,

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War, terrorism, economic struggle, mass shootings — such is life in the Oval Office for President Obama. Yet in his few quiet moments, this president seeks not to escape to the delicious back-stabbing of the “Real Housewives” or the frivolity of the singing teens on “Glee.” By his own accounts, Obama is drawn to such shows as HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire,” the kind of heavy, darkly rendered television that echoes the strife that makes up so much of his workday.

These days, when Obama retreats to the White House residence after a long day on the other end of the colonnade, he is working his way through the DVD box set of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” the award-winning TV drama about a drug-dealing high school teacher. The show just ended after five seasons, but the president is way behind and frequently reminds those around him not to give anything away.

Friends say Obama is also keenly awaiting the new season of the Netflix show “House of Cards,” which starkly depicts a dysfunctional Washington, a theme that must seem all too familiar.

Obama has his own TV distractions that do not involve serious subjects. He is a rabid sports fan, and friends and colleagues say he enjoys ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

He also once told TV Guide that he and his family watch ABC’s “Modern Family” and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” — two comedies that could never be accused of being deep, dark or edgy.

Obama once admitted to People Magazine that he is “a little darker” in his TV habits than the rest of his family.

It may be “Homeland” that offers the most interesting insight into Obama’s down-time preferences. Like Fox’s “24” before it, “Homeland” reveals the hidden dangers in a complicated world. But “Homeland” is more subtle, presenting choices that are rarely easy and never cost-free.

It is not unlike the phrase Obama often uses with his closest advisers: “Hard things are hard,” he says.

New York Times

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  • From left, actors Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks and Bryan Cranston during Season 4 of “Breaking Bad.” President Obama says he is way behind on the episodes.

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