Lessons From…Alpha House

I enjoyed a lazy few days this past weekend as it was the last one before my break was over and I officially started working. During my time off, I marathoned the second season of the Amazon show Alpha House. It’s a pretty funny and insightful show and I am a huge fan of John Goodman, so of course I recommend watching this as soon as you can. As I kept viewing episode after episode, I noticed a couple of trends and themes that I felt merited further examination and discussion. Accordingly, I chose to write on them here and as always SPOILERS ahead.

I get a lot of mileage out of this picture.

I get a lot of mileage out of this picture.

So Alpha House follows the exploits and adventures of four Republican senators in Washington D.C. Their adventures, for the most part, involve various ways of winning reelection to stay in office and possibly gain more political power. Of course, this is a comedy, so their plans and deals usually end up failing miserably. Furthermore, since they all seem to have an endless supply of “protagonist power”, every single one of them always manages to land on their feet and not get indicted, fired, or ever penalized for their actions. Somehow it makes for good viewing.

This is not to say that there is never any conflict or trouble for the four senators. Merely that they find a way to overcome their obstacles and in doing so learn some deeper lesson. Yes, it is a pretty cliche formula, but again it works for the show. More to the point, one of the fundamental lessons that each senator  learns and goes through is to “lean into yourself” as another senator puts it. Basically, don’t fight who you are and play to your strengths. Each senator has a moment of existential crises, completely of their own making, during the second season and every attempt to avoid or fix it simply digs them in further. They continue in this nosedive into oblivion until each one returns to their original drive, purpose, and self they had when they began their journey into public service. They had to remember who they were to continue growing into who they are meant to become. This is most apparent in Senator Gil John Biggs’s redemption journey from most likely being unseated as a Senator to becoming a front runner for the Republican nomination for president. (Remember it’s a fictional universe where this is a possibility)

Not the worst decision fictional Republicans could make.

Not the worst decision fictional Republicans could make.

A major theme that runs through the second season, and really the whole show, is the need for relationships. The first season focused more on the connections between the four senators/roommates while the second season focuses more on the connection(s) and truth of family and love. Every single senator performs and acts better in all aspects of their political and personal lives when their ambition, passion, and strength is tempered by the love of a good woman, and possibly a man for one of the senators. Which brings us to the second lesson: you need something or someone beyond yourself to strive, fight, bleed, and sweat for. This is most exemplified by Senator Andy Guzman who fucks up royally in his attempt at occupying the White House because of his salacious libido. His redemption only comes after he figures out that the woman he scorned is the one he has been waiting for. His ill conceived attempts at wooing her back actually work and put him back in legitimate contention for the Republican nomination. We are our best when we are working with or toward something beyond ourselves. In other words, greatness requires a bit of selflessness.

There is plenty more to watch for in this show, so I’ll let you explore the rest on your own. Seriously, go watch it on Amazon and marathon the series. It will be worth it.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

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