After Hulu sent me an email about their new original series Battleground (not to be confused with the movie based on a board game named Battleship) I decided to check it out. Maybe I’m just a sucker for email marketing. Yes I am (sometimes), however in this case I was genuinely intrigued. Not so much about the show in particular (I really thought it was about naval warfare), more so about the fact it is true original online programming. I had been excited about the original programming prospect for quite some time since Netflix first announced Lilyhammer. I hadn’t watched Netflix’s foray into original programming so why not Hulu’s venture. It’s been 8 episodes out of a possible 13 episode season (though I’m not really sure). Here’s how I see it.
The show is very much a single camera comedy a la The Office or Parks and Recreation though not quite the same. It’s filmed as a faux documentary of a U.S. senate campaign in the battleground state of Wisconsin. We follow the liberal, democratic current state senator, her conniving husband, her simpleton step-son, the campaign manager, PR woman, speech writer, social media expert and interns throughout their day and see their wacky shenanigans. It’s quite an interesting crowd. They really do all have good repoire with each other and it works well to highlight their interrelationships.
The first 8 episodes have been somewhat funny. There were a couple lull episodes in the beginning, episodes 2 through 4, though it got better. They derive a lot of their humor from the situation and some quirky characters. I’ve never been part of a political campaign so I don’t really know how realistic any of the political “stuff” is but it seemingly works in context. I’ve had a number of “a ha” and laugh out loud moments.
As part of the faux documentary they have interviews with their future selves. Most of them anyway. They’ve been able to do a fair amount of foreshadowing and gives up some lingering questions that we want answered. Yet another reason to continue watching.
The casting is not too bad. I have no idea how the financials work with this show but I’d imagine that they don’t have a huge budget. There are certainly no big name actors, probably can’t afford them. The male lead (“Tak” Davis – the campaign manager), played by Jay Hayden, can totally carry the show. He’s charismatic and can really act. I must also give a notable mention to the intern characters Ben and Lindsay, played by Ben Samuel and Lindsay Payne respectively. Ben is really playing two different characters and does a great job at it. Lindsay really brings home a great girl next door though she is a stronger female character as well.
So I say give it a shot if you haven’t done so already. It’s not that bad and I’m going to keep going. This is Hulu’s first foray into original programming and they have much more in the pipeline. It’s bound to get better (though it could get worse). As more and more original programming shifts away from the traditional networks to a web based platform we’re going to see better and better shows.
Watch Battleground on Hulu. 8 episodes are available right now and they put up new ones every Tuesday. Enjoy!