The Greatest Show on Earth

Ryan Redding

What do you get when you mix a reality TV star with the highest political office in the free world?

The Greatest Show on Earth!

Putting an orange billionaire who has a wife 25 years younger than him in the oval office sounds like it could be a primetime sit-com. When Donald Trump first announced he was going to run for president in 2015 it seemed as if everyone just laughed it off. This was surely another publicity stunt from the host of “The Apprentice”. But as the months went on and it became clear that this was real, Americans could not turn away.

Advertisers noticed America’s obsession and quickly tried to capitalize on the debates which were getting as many viewers as primetime television shows. According to AdAge, CNN was charging 40 times their normal rate for commercial time during the debates they hosted. The first Republican debate became the most watched cable telecast of all time (excluding sports programming).

Why is America so obsessed with Donald Trump’s political venture? It is the same reason we binge the whole second season of “Stranger Things” the night it is released; we love the entertainment. Watching the presidential debates had nothing to do with the actual politics and everything to do with the amusement of seeing Donald Trump yell “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!” into Hillary Clinton’s ear.

Let’s face it, politics are boring. Many of us get uninterested when real topics are discussed. However, we can spend a full afternoon watching candidates insinuate their competitors have small genitalia. When Rep. Marco Rubio was still in the running for president, the amount of air time that he was getting compared to Trump was very small. Then Rubio decided to call out Trump for his “miniature hands” and that was all CNN talked about the next day.

The way television makes money is by companies paying for ad time. The more popular the show, the more the advertisers will pay. With the rise of popularity in streaming services, the amount of commercials being seen by people (especially millennials) has decreased significantly which has meant less revenue for networks.

In order to fix this problem, the television companies decided to run a nightly unscripted show that you cannot see on Hulu or Netflix. The main character is wacky and easy to make fun of, which is just what this meme obsessed generation wants. Then plan obviously worked because the first 2016 Republican Debate drew 6.7 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic. That figure is more than double the total amount of people that watched the same debate in 2012.

News programs are not the only shows that are on the Trump bandwagon, there are now multiple spin-offs. This season of “American Horror Story” is based on how people began to go crazy following the results of the election. Alec Baldwin won an Emmy this year for his reoccurring portrayal of Trump on “Saturday Night Live”. Then of course there are the multiple late night talk shows that seem to include him in every monologue. 

Is it scary to think that a man who looked directly at the sun during the eclipse is leading the country? Sure. Is it annoying that he can say racist things and gain popularity? Of course. Is it sickening that he can get away with outrageously sexist comments? Without a doubt, but man does it make for good TV!

In a time where a tragedy will turn into a meme the next day, maybe Donald Trump is the president this generation deserves. Our own obsession with drama induced entertainment is what keeps us glued to the screen, it is also the reason we are letting a man while absolutely no political experience run our country.