Commander in Chief: The coolest presidents in TV history
If you’ve simultaneously been hoping to see Jennifer Aniston (and her legendary hair) enjoy an opportunity to play a strong character while also waiting patiently for anyone to write an American LGBTQI president anytime soon, this is your lucky day. (Conversely, if you’ve ever seen Tig Notaro act, you probably want to hide in a corner.)
The former Friends star and romcom queen was tapped to play America’s first lesbian president in the upcoming Netflix film First Ladies. Aniston’s character, Beverly Nicholson, will move into the White House with her wife Kasey, played by comedienne Tig Notaro (One Mississippi), who apparently pitched the idea with her real-life wife Stephanie Allynne.
We’re not sure if a script exists yet, but there’s a silly tagline (“Behind every great woman . . . is another great woman”) and a great supporting cast including Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Jessica Elbaum (The Other Guys), Adam McKay (The Big Short), and Betsy Koch (Predators). It’s the film equivalent of pushing the stroller before the baby is even born, but that just seems to be how Netflix is rolling these days.
Script or not, our interest is definitely piqued by the project as we love seeing a good depiction of the POTUS on the small screen – particularly if that depiction is a little unorthodox compared to the usual guys running the country. On the other hand, given the virtue-signaling level inherent in such a project and with two notoriously weak actors at the helm, it’s more than likely to be an absolute dumpster fire.
Meanwhile, here’s a ranking of seven of our favorite small-screen U.S. presidents of the past 20 years.
7. Mackenzie Allen: Commander in Chief
Rod Lurie’s short lived political drama follows the ascension of the first female American president who just so happens to be played by the infinitely fierce Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise).
However, the real twist with the show is that Allen gets sworn into her post from the Vice Presidency after the sitting president dies. However, she’s an independent VP on a Republican ticket who is subsequently asked to resign by the dying POTUS and the rest of the party. She doesn’t and the rest is pure dynamite.
6. Frank Underwood: House of Cards
Manipulative, conniving, and diabolically corrupt, Kevin Spacey’s POTUS clawed and killed his way up to leadership in the Netflix Originals political drama. Frank might not be the most likeable or respectable president on this list but (not to get too cynical on this vibe) he provides the most honest portrayal of the sort of cutthroat antics that could unfold in such a rise to power.
5. Fitzgerald Grant: Scandal
Shonda Rhimes’s hit show turned the White House into a soap opera stage. The horny exploits between President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and his occasional paramour Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) gives politics a sexy sheen while the S6 twist of long suffering FLOTUS Mellie (Bellamy Young) being made president keeps us absolutely gasping.
The actual politics involved in it all are fairly irrelevant so long as the power dynamics and bedtime antics keep shifting.
4. Selina Meyer: Veep
Though Meyer was only an acting president for the briefest of moments before losing her position in the subsequent election, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s bungling White House leader is refreshingly terrible at her job. Depicted with a healthy dose of cynicism, Meyer is a perennial screw up with a questionable moral compass but at least she’s funny as hell to watch.
3. David Palmer: 24
Dennis Haysbert (Far from Heaven) once suggested President Palmer was such a convincing and great president that 24 may have helped elect Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American POTUS.
Not only is the dude ludicrously trustworthy but holy sh** does he deal with a lot of madcap drama during his terms in power – assassination attempts! Nuclear bombs! Attempted coups! A scheming ex-wife! Somehow he just powered through and handled it all like a boss.
2. Josiah “Jed” Bartlet: The West Wing
President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) gave America a much-needed father figure during a period of US political conflict. As IndieWire once put it, “Aaron Sorkin treated his White House occupant like a superhero,” and though we’re likely never going to see such an upstanding leader in the White House ourselves, The West Wing POTUS gave us a glimpse of an idealized president with good values and morals.
1. Lisa Simpson: The Simpsons
In the now infamous episode of Matt Groening’s animated classic show “Bart to the Future”, we’re offered a glimpse of a crumbling future America where President Lisa is wrestling with budgeting issues inherited from former President Donald Trump.
All early 00s jokes aside (simpler days, friends!), Lisa is exactly the sweet, smart, kind, and strong POTUS we’d love to see in office. Plus, check out her look! Older Lisa is legit the coolest animated president we could have ever wished for (and gives us serious Leslie Knope vibes).