A little while ago the Libertarian (really they’re becoming a bit of a isolationist quasi-liberal outlet, but we’ll ignore that for now) magazine Reason released a list of the top 5 libertarian TV Shows and least libertarian shows. As is all too typical of libertarians these days their best shows were just a little unwatchable (Penn & Teller’s okay in small doses but the rest can be ignored at best) and their worst list did include some terrible drivel but also attacked some great works of TV.
So since the sanctimonious writers at Libertarians shouldn’t go unchallenged, here are the five best conservative shows on TV and regrettably the five least conservative shows.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer as conservative? As in the conservative movement? Yes and yes. The people over at Brietbart agree it’s conservative and The Weekly Standard agree it “is the best show in the history of television.
But Whedon is such a bleeding heart? And the lesbian couple? And all the sex? And some of the occasional insulting statements to religion?
Okay let’s get the objections out of the way…I don’t know what Whedon’s problems are, and I probably never will, and I’m not sure if he even knows what his core beliefs are as some of his comments suggest a deep confusion about his own beliefs…what I do know is that for all this atheistic statements his works are filled with religion, for all his liberal statements his works are filled with conservative and libertarian themes. As to the lesbian couple, if you find that as being against conservatism, you are really on the wrong website. In fact the show even openly mocks the kind of leftist who think sexuality is some political statement. As to all the sex…I dare you to show me an episode where sex is treated lightly. Sex in Buffy comes with serious consequences, this is not a liberal free love and don’t worry about anything fest…this is, you risk your heart, your soul and everything you are when you engage in sex—maybe a little melodramatic, but certainly it doesn’t make light of the importance of sex in human interactions as liberals are so wont to do. And yes there are some insults toward religious zealots (of the Santorum Progressives for Jesus ilk) but as it has been pointed out, the shows has repeatedly also has some very powerful moments of religious faith (see the episodes “Amends” and the Angel episode “Epiphany”).
Okay so the critics are out of the way. Why is this show so conservative? Because it understands the basic concept of virtue and vice and will. Our heroes are heroes not because of the powers they have (there are more than enough people who misuse power, and enough heroes in the show without any). They are heroes because of the people they choose to be. Every one of the main characters is flawed in a truly human way (it’s the story of a ditzy cheerleader, a mousey nerd, and socially inept class clown who choose to be something more) and who through consistent working to be better people become better people. They stumble, as all people do, but they in the end exemplify a range of virtues that were never present in their characters in the first season of the show. And they do this not just through willpower and habitual work but through working to allow real friendship to make them all better people while at the same time never making this a story about some kind of leftist story of collectivism…it’s individuals engaging in friendship, brought together through a shared commitment to virtue, becoming better people through their actions. It’s what would happen if you were to turn Aristotle’s Nichamachean Ethics into a witty action/horror with Shakespearian level writing. Doesn’t get more to the ideal of conservatives than that.
Now add to that that isolationism is repeatedly shown as the cowardice it is, overly powerful government is a bad thing, evil must be fought, and redemption is possible for everyone. Go on tell me how this is possibly liberal at any level?
Angelus: Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends…No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?
- John Adams
It should be all too obvious why this show is on here. The story of one of the major driving forces behind American independence, who for all his faults put his nation first and foremost. John Adams, as writer Russell Kirk pointed out, was possibly the first true conservative of American politics. Unlike idealists like Franklin and Jefferson he had his ideals but he did not let them distract him from the facts of reality. Unlike complete pragmatists like Hamilton he did not believe that all ideals should be sacrificed for expediency. Like a real patriot he did what was always best for his nation…like keep America out of a war it should not have fought (I can’t think of another president for whom the same can be said, many who didn’t fight when we should have, certainly a host of them who fought when we shouldn’t, but only one who kept us out of a war we had no business being in).
The beauty of the show is that it not only shows us the large and small points of what makes a patriot. The large is the dedication to liberty and country at all costs. And if you don’t choke up a little in the scene when the Declaration is read aloud, you are not an American.
The small is showing that our Founding Fathers were not demigods who came down to us from on high—they were men. Human, capable of mistakes, petty jealousies, and error…but also capable of very human feeling of friendship and love. And despite not being the supernatural vision of perfection that smaller minds are all too happy to deal in, they are even better than the images of those who need heroes to worship, because they are able to time and time again rise above their flaws to accomplish something far greater than any of them.
Again we see patriotism and virtue, limited government and the necessity to fight evil (in the form of tyranny).
Simon: So does it happen a lot? Government commandeering your ship, telling you where to go?
Mal: That’s what governments are for… get in a man’s way.
I think we all initially found it very odd that this show didn’t make the libertarian list. After all this show has been praised time and time again for its libertarian themes. Free markets, individualism, the evils of overly powerful government, the entrepreneurial and rebellious spirit of spitting in the face of the powerful…all with the depth of writing you found in Buffy. Why on Earth would any of the five shows they picked have come in ahead of this perfect gem of a show…and then I realized why it is in the end a conservative show and not a libertarian one. Because while it has the libertarian love of capitalism, free markets, and liberty…it has the distinctly conservative need to do what is right. Modern libertarianism keeps philosophically devolving from what greatness it once had (they’re now using hacks like Robert Nozick as their current basis for their ethical and political beliefs…because Kantianism is such a firm footing for philosophy???) and becoming more a philosophy of anarchist and hedonists. And where we see this most prevalently is in their understanding of ethics and empathy. Modern libertarians can’t be bothered with the problems of other people. Any evil is permissible so long as it doesn’t bother them…just look at Ron Paul saying that he wouldn’t have used military power to stop the Holocaust…or Rand Paul caring more about the technicality of whether our pathetic show of military force against ISIS rather than the correct and ethical take of passing a law requiring not just pathetic bombing runs but that we dedicate the force necessary to whipping this monstrosity from existence.
Firefly is not libertarian because every one of the characters is at one time or another willing to risk their lives to do what is right. They all have the chance to leave throughout the show and they don’t. That is what makes this show conservative not libertarian.
This record here’s about twelve years old. Parliament buried it and it stayed buried until River here dug it up. This is what they were afraid she knew. And they were right to fear. There’s a universe of folk who’re gonna know it, too. Someone *has to* speak for these people. Y’all got on this boat for different reasons, but y’all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this – they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.
Seriously you would never hear a libertarian say anything like that.
- Once Upon A Time
“[Everything] always comes with a price, dearie.”
Okay there are seriously perplexing questions about Storybrooke’s economics if you think about it too much…but I’m just going to say “magic” and move on. The flaws of their actual systems of economics aside, the entire show is based on a very conservative principle, Robert Heinlein’s TANSTAFL (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch). Magic may explain away some of the pragmatic points of the show, but magic always comes with a price. And with that comes a second piece of understanding of capitalistic economics, the law of unintended consequences. You may pay a price for magic, but you often don’t understand what the ripple effects of the magic or the price will be, as shown innumerable times in the story. In almost every story the theme that nothing comes easy and that we have to think about the consequences of our actions before they come back to hurt us. Unlike a liberal view of the world, actions have consequences in this universe.
The show also has a strong conservative belief in family. Not in the Progressive way of thinking of family as either only a husband/wife/child or nothing at all (Progressives can see this in only one of two ways either the complete dissolution of the family or in the strictest definition. And it must be all or nothing in their minds). But Once Upon A Time shows that any family, traditional, adopted, single parent, step-parents and any variation thereof. The show matches up with what every conservative knows, that a stable family (which almost always means 2 parents…pick any combination you like to reach 2) means that children will be in a much better situation…and between Snow, Charming, Emma, Regina, Rumple, Neal, (the list can go on) it is the desire to protect and provide the best chance for our children that drives so many of the characters (as it should drive so many parents, and yet somehow doesn’t).
Renee Walker: I don’t know what to do.
Jack Bauer: I can’t tell you what to do. I’ve been wrestling with this one my whole life. I-I see 15 people held hostage on a bus, and everything else goes out the window. And I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean whatever it takes. (wry chuckle). I guess maybe I thought… if I save them… I’d save myself.
Renee Walker: Do you regret anything that you did today?
Jack Bauer: No. Then again, I don’t work for the FBI.
Renee Walker: I don’t understand.
Jack Bauer: You took an oath. You made a promise to uphold the law. When you cross that line, it always starts off with a small step. Before you know it, you’re running as fast as you can in the wrong direction just to justify why you started in the first place. These laws were written by much smarter men than me. And in the end, I know that these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus. I know that’s right. In my mind, I know that’s right. I just don’t think my heart could ever have lived with that. I guess the only advice I can give you is… try to make choices that you can live with.
Now the whiny libertarians over at Reason declared “24 exists as nothing less than agitprop for the national security state and the righteous evisceration of civil liberties” acting as if there were never any of the discussions of where to draw the line in the show, of should these lines ever be crossed…but only a libertarian could possibly not understand that human beings react in situations in ways that do conform to strict rules, because, they’re human. The meaning and depth of the dialogue goes way over the head of your typical myopic libertarian. But then again this is the political movement that worships a man who says he wouldn’t have used US forces to stop the Holocaust because it really wasn’t our business…to a libertarian any evil is acceptable as long as it doesn’t affect them. And their hatred of this show.
But let’s go to why this is a conservative show. It’s not just the understanding that there is evil in the world and it needs to be stood up to. It’s not just that it’s fairly patriotic. No, what makes it conservative is that it shows who the real villain is: bureaucracy. I have a shirt that points out that “If they just listened to Jack, the show would be called 12.” And that’s so true. Islamic, Balkan, Russian terrorists, evil corporate conglomerates, corrupt politicians, the gross incompetence of Jack’s daughter in season 2…none of this causes as many problems as bureaucracy in 24. Bureaucrats at every level of government want to whine about rules and regulations that were designed for normal situations–not, oh I don’t know, when a biological weapon that could wipe out 90% of humanity might get out, or a nuclear bomb is about to go off—and feel that in complete defiance of common sense that these rules must be followed even in extraordinary situations for which these rules were never designed for. Granted problems like this don’t come up as often as they seem to on 24…but in reality we see the same level of lack of common sense in every day life. The kind of bureaucratic mentality that wants to whine about due process with a terrorist who has a nuke is the same mentality that says ‘that kid with the lemonade stand doesn’t have a permit to do business, we need to fine them.’ Go back and watch any episode, it’s always the bureaucrats who are to blame more than any terrorist. And it this justified loathing of the bureaucracy that is unique to conservatism.
And onto the least conservatives shows…
The whole network is a propagandist piece of liberal shilling that makes Pravda look right of center. Every employee at that place lives in the most deluded echo chamber and doesn’t understand the difference between facts and opinion or their own emotions and reason. If you ever want to know what goes through the mind of a liberal, just turn to MSNBC and you’ll see…although why would you want to?
Hey, I don’t know, why don’t we have a show that makes everything about sexual orientation and whatever our lord and savior Obama wants us to talk about this week. And let’s have a subpar soundtrack that will literally ruin every single song we touch. It’s a fascinating concept but it never attempted to be anything but bad music and shilling for liberal points of view. Sure lots of shows are just as lacking in depth and quality…but there was something just so tacky about their political shilling that it gets raises the show from merely forgettable to this list.
As another writer on this site likes to point out “she looks like a potato, a sexually promiscuous potato”. And apparently one that molests and abuses younger siblings but doesn’t find anything wrong with that. A show that only exist to shill a whiny liberal’s excuse for a show in between her tactless comparisons of voting for Obama to losing your virginity and her accusations of rape by a Republican (strangely she has failed to accuse a specific individual, probably because she will be hit with an immediate slander suit and lose if she did). I’d critique the plot, the direction or the quality of writing or acting…but there would have to be some quality or plot to critique in the first place.
The show is like a mix between Sex & The City and a bad porno on a bottle of Nyquil and a handful of Quaaludes…but even that might be a bit polite.
I can’t say that there is exactly a liberal message to the show itself, because that would grant it a depth it doesn’t even come close to having…but liberals do seem to like it.
All I can say is that it seems to match the typical amoral self-indulgence of a liberal perfectly.
A bloated self indulgent love song to the idiots at MSNBC. It traffics in lies and bullshit as a central piece of every single plot. It is so bad that even the idiots at HBO are having to cancel it after only 3 seasons (and see numbers 3 and 5 to understand how bad that is). So to be clear according to this excuse for a show America is a terrible country, possibly the worst, conservatives are all idiots, the Tea Party is worse than Al-Qaeda and liberalism is the salvation of all Earth.
- Game of Thrones
It might be unfair that three of these five shows all come from HBO (especially since they’re the people who also gave us John Adams, and conservative runner up Rome)…but their lineup for the last few years just makes me look back on the early days of HBO when they ran Beastmaster on a near endless loop and think that they had better judgment in scheduling back then.
Now this is the one that I expect to actually get some shock. After all it’s so popular, with everybody. I know lots of her conservatives who love this show. But it is quite honestly one of the least conservative shows ever conceived. Remember how I listed Buffy as the best because it showed very human and fallible characters reaching toward virtue and goodness…well Game of Thrones is the exact opposite. You have flawed characters doing their hardest to embrace vice and destroy virtue at all costs. I mean the only character with any redeeming characteristics is a freak (to be good is to be against nature in Martin’s view). Martin’s is on record as saying he thinks the battle between good and evil is waged in the human heart…but from his writing it’s pretty clear that he believes that not only does the evil always win, but that we should embrace it. The fantasy genre has it’s flaws and virtues but its chief virtue was that it was primarily the last genre to not succumb to the pervasive moral greyness that almost every genre has fallen to in this post modern world…until Martin brought that filth of a philosophy to fantasy as well. This is not just a story without virtue it is a story that actively rejects virtue, that suggests the pursuit of virtue is for fools and encourages the naked lust for power. It makes the argument of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan that all men are corrupt and by extension the only way to control them is a central power, a strong ruler upon the iron thrown.
But what do you expect from a man who says:
“In real life, the hardest aspect of the battle between good and evil is determining which is which.” –George R.R. Martin
You know there is a lot of grey in the world, a lot, and a clear choice isn’t always obvious…and I’m not nearly foolish enough to think that the world is always black and white…but when the stakes reach to the level of real good and evil…it’s never a question and you have to be morally bankrupt not to know the difference. And his work is just as morally bankrupt and encourages such depravity.
Oh and all his characters also have an idiotic libertarian isolationist streak when it comes to foreign policy. You have an army of ice zombies barreling down on you…now is not the time to engage in isolationism or petty squabbling!