Grandstand. “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy” (“Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy”). This word from the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) has a strange topicality with the emergence of a television series actor, Volodymyr Zelensky, hero of the series servant of the people (2025-2019) where he embodies an ordinary man, Vassili Goloborodko, history-geography professor, acceding somewhat by accident to the presidency of Ukraine, and who in 2019, when the 3and season of his series, “directs” this scenario. Supported by a political party that bears the very name of the series, he is then effectively elected president of his country.
This is obviously not the first time that a TV series has joined reality. TV series now have such a place in the lives of viewers that they are, according to the established expression “a mirror of society”, but also act on the world, precisely through this serial mode of attachment to hero identified with the actor.
We remember that actor Martin Sheen, who played the legendary President Bartlet in the classic The West Wing, was so popular in 2000 that an NBC poll placed him far ahead of George W. Bush and Al Gore for the presidency.
The cult series 24 hour clock, which each episode of the season tells an hour in the life of a counter-terrorism agent, started the day after September 11 although it had been programmed and filmed long before. The Handmaid’s Tale anticipated the formidable attacks of the Trump presidency on women’s rights. Money Heist has offered slogans and sounds to the mobilizations of recent years. Homelandin its fifth season written in 2014, featured European jihadist cells and was broadcast in France during the November 2015 attacks.
The role of his life
We have to review today Chernobyl, while the nuclear power plants are bombed in Ukraine and no longer answer the telephone; and the splendid seasons 4 and 5 of Legends Officeunder Russian influence.
But the actor Martin Sheen has never been president of the United States, nor the excellent Dennis Haysbert, even if he accustomed his public to a black president by playing David Palmer in a premonitory way in 24 hours.
Zelensky has become the “showrunner” of Ukraine’s destiny. Never has the impact of a series on real life been so direct. It is also remarkable that servant of the people either a Ukrainian production, clearly highlighting the globalization of series production. It’s an un-American series that gave Ukraine’s future president the role of his life and saw him rise from “soft power” to power, even though servant of the people is steeped in American democratic culture.
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