Talking Points

The Trump show has jumped the shark

Like Bran Stark vanishing for the entire fifth season of Game of Thrones, Steve Bannon has been mostly offscreen since he was ousted as White House chief strategist over the summer of 2017. But now he's back, returning to the Trump Show under the sort of circumstances only 2020 — or a really desperate sitcom writer — could concoct.

The past four years have felt at times like watching a really bad TV show, one I'd have called "unfocused" and "uneven" were I writing a review about it; I wouldn't have spared the bad dialogue, either. Really, the Trump Show jumped the shark long ago, with that storyline about the porn star, the anticlimactic impeachment season, and the president's losing battle against K-pop stans (alright, that last episode was actually pretty good — maybe the show does sometimes have its moments).

Still, reading today that Bannon was taken into custody "at sea" by U.S. Postal Service agents — the protagonists of this season, if you haven't been keeping up with the recaps — for putting money from an online fundraiser to "Build The Wall" (a nice Season One callback) to personal use, you have to wonder: who is writing this thing?

If our literal democracy weren't at threat, it'd almost be amusing. As it stands, though, there's nothing more horrifying than reading about current politics and being reminded of TV, which is supposed to be an entertaining diversion and not reflective of actual real life. Bannon's reappearance on a supervillain yacht, then, isn't an elegant comedic twist thought up by David Mandel — it re-emphasizes the fact that Trump did not in fact hire "the best people," but surrounded himself with self-serving and corrupt yes-men (Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the fraud charges). The late-season resurfacing of the 2016 southern border wall talking point, meanwhile, isn't uninspired writing; it's a reminder of how the administration has conned its supporters for years into believing it's actually acting in their interests.

And the Postal Service being the ones to save the day — well alright, maybe there's not a whole lot more to read into that other than that they're clearly an agency worth celebrating. But before you run off to write a pilot about postal workers fighting crime on the high seas — the elite unit that caught Bannon already has its own TV show.