A Video Series Really Worth Seeing (Updated)


In general my policy is: if Andrew Sullivan has mentioned something on his site, there is no need for anyone else to refer to it, since the word has already been spread far and wide.

An exception, out of enthusiasm, for his recent allusion to and clip from the British series The Thick of It. British humor is distinguished by being genuinely crueler than the watered-down Yank version. Compare the Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell versions of The Office and you immediately see the difference. The Thick of It is like a West Wing in which everyone ends up humiliated and embarrassed and stripped of pretense -- and if you don't think the result is funny, you have a more elevated soul than I do (or most of the population of the UK). The film In The Loop, by the same director and some of the same actors, was another not-quite-as-vicious version. This is Thick of It:

The absolutely humiliating real-life sequence of Gordon Brown unctuously chatting up a constituent and then haughtily dismissing her once in the car (but still miked up) is almost too perfect a sample of a Thick of It moment. Find this series and watch it. (My wife and I originally did thanks to our recent-grad friend Sophie, who came across it while working in London).

UPDATE: I knew there was a scene from Season 1 of Thick of It that was exactly like Gordon Brown's current disaster. Someone has just put it up on YouTube. Can Brown have been the only person in the politically-involved UK not to have watched this show?

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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