I don’t know about you, but I hate reality TV shows – with one exception. “American Strongman” is in its third season. I confess, I’m addicted.
The premise of “American Strongman” is simple: A creepy, corrupt billionaire with funny hair becomes president and tries to become the first strongman – or dictator – in U.S. history.
It’s high-stakes, high-tension drama. The show is a media sensation.
The first two seasons of “American Strongman” saw its star – Donald Trump, a real estate developer from Queens – getting his footing in the Oval Office.
A political amateur, Donald was learning the most complex, daunting job on Earth. Hijinks ensued. We witnessed staff chaos, gaffes and goofs galore. But Trump had victories, too – a big tax cut, two confirmed Supreme Court justices.
Both seasons throbbed with the tension of a threat to Donald’s very presidential existence. His arch-enemy: Robert Mueller, special prosecutor. (Cue ominous music.) A sitting U.S. president under a counterintelligence investigation for conspiring with a hostile foreign power?
Watching “American Strongman” was like visiting an alternate universe.
Season 3 is equally bizarre.
Democrats took control of the House and launched multiple investigations. Donald took control as chief executive and started purging his regime of professionals with any experience, independence or self-respect. We’ve been entertained by a parade of “acting” administrators – incompetents, sycophants, Trump zombies.
And William Barr.
The new attorney general threw his body, jowls and all, on the grenade that was the Mueller Report. Barr muffled the explosion – defused the existential time bomb, if you like – single-handedly rescuing Trump’s presidency.
In fact, some fans believe William Barr may be the key to Donald actually winning “American Strongman.” Trump has found his “fixer.” A loyal AG to give him legal cover as he pushes the limits of executive power.
Despite all the drama, ratings for “American Strongman” have declined in Season 3.
Audience fatigue may be a factor. The show’s frantic pace is exhausting as crisis follows crisis – government shutdowns, national emergencies, trade wars. Even fans need to take frequent breaks.
Many people can’t watch the show at all, unable to tolerate the stress levels. Or the star. Whose face, voice and physical presence in the White House induce actual nausea and abject terror in half the country.
I sympathize with non-viewers, sharing their visceral reactions. But I’m an addict. A junkie for the outrage only “American Strongman” can deliver.
Plus, I’m curious how things play out.
Will House Democrats impeach Trump? How far can Trump defy Congressional oversight? Will Donnie the Wild Elephant trample a free press and independent judiciary into the dust?
And after a “failed coup” and “treason” by the FBI, will Donald seize personal control of the country’s internal security forces (a must for any strongman) and start jailing his political opponents?
Can a developer from Queens destroy a 230-year-old republic, the most successful democracy in human history?
Stay tuned …