Heard on the Hill

Examining the Examiners

Campaign carnies, gather ’round. Do we have a show for you. It’s called “Battleground,” and it is being streamed on a computer or television near you. The show is a “mockumentary” about the work lives of staffers for struggling fictional U.S. Senate candidate Deirdre Samuels in the battleground state of Wisconsin. J.D. Walsh, the writer, director, actor and producer behind this Hulu original series, got the idea for the show after he worked on Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign for one week. Like many before him, Walsh found the life on the trail to be utterly fascinating, but unlike the classic campaign junkie, he left and returned to his family in Los Angeles. “These people keep going,” Walsh said. Walsh wrote and directed all 13 episodes of the show, which was filmed on location in Madison, Wis., in one long stretch. “It was like doing three movies back-to-back,” Walsh told HOH. The show is about the people who examine being examined, Walsh said, calling it a series that films and studies the people who study, navigate and manipulate the media for a living. The show’s strongest moments display the insecurity and vulnerability of the staff. “We’re trying to play it a little bit straight,” Walsh explained to HOH. The series is meant to show that people are funny in their everyday lives. So perhaps those who take themselves too seriously should take a good hard look. Meanwhile, former campaign staffers are weighing in through email on the mockumentary series. A sampling of our HOH brain trust’s notes: “This is a senate race not a wet dream. No one has the budget, or inspiration, for laminated name tags.” “Random day at the office: No one is business, or even business casual unless they are an .” “The only flack who dubs him herself ‘Head of Media Strategy’ is someone who doesn’t have the chops to know that no one calls themselves that.” “No in a competitive primary has a speechwriter. The ‘Head of Media Strategy’ should be hashing that speech out with consultants. ... Seriously, where are the consultants?” “Debates are hosted by third parties. No one would have a meeting of the minds unless it is going to break into a dance number. Nope. Lame. Also, why does a sitting U.S. hold meetings in the Statehouse Capitol?” "The terrible staffer make out scene at the end saved it. Accurate.”  
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