When the United States House of Representatives attempted to elect a new Speaker this week, political junkies were treated to comedy of errors that could have been ripped straight out of an Armando Iannucci script. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s decade-spanning, Sisyphean quest to land the Speakership hit yet another snag (14 of them, to be precise), as his ascent to the job was repeatedly held up by a handful of far-right members of his own party who refused to vote for him.
While McCarthy was eventually able to corral enough votes to be sworn in as Speaker, the week of drama made for some incredible television. Many Americans noticed that the coverage on C-SPAN was far more interesting than the network’s normally dry congressional programming, with the camera showing a multitude of side conversations between representatives that would normally never see the light of day.
The shift in tone was due to the fact that congressional leadership dictates what C-SPAN is and is not allowed to show. But with nobody in charge while Congress tried to elect a leader, the cameramen had free rein to tell the whole story.
The coverage has caught Hollywood’s attention. In a new story in The New Yorker, some of the film industry’s top satirists reflected on the human folly that the cameras were able to capture.
“I love the shots on the new ‘looser’ C-SPAN. It’s kind of like C-SPAN after hours,” said “Veep” and “The White House Plumbers” showrunner David Mandel. “I love seeing the side chats, the attempts at dealmaking, and, most importantly, I love watching the Democrats try to pretend they aren’t enjoying every second of it.”
Judd Apatow also expressed his admiration for the coverage, adding that the side huddles between GOP representatives reminded him of “the scenes where the evil vampires, the Volturi coven, gather to conspire. Every smile gives me the willies. They are clearly planning their attack on the Cullen family.”
The entertainment value of the Speaker votes were not lost on anyone, including the people producing the coverage for C-SPAN.
“Oh, absolutely,” C-SPAN director of editorial operations Benjamin O’Connell said. “I don’t think it’s been lost on anyone here that we are participating in a historic event by showing something so unusual to the American people.”