How Popular TV Shows Influence Politics

In Russia in the 1990s, missed an episode of the American soap St. Barbara was “considered a personal mini-tragedy, writes Mikhail Iossel. Although the show‘s particular post-Soviet obsession waned during Putin’s time, it never fully faded. In fact, according to Iossel, it continues to shape how Russians view the West on a daily basis.

In this collection of essays from our archive, we take a look at which popular TV shows, from St. Barbara in chinese your shidai dramas, tell about the countries that produce and consume them – and how these shows often reflect and help shape national identity. –Chloe Hadavas

The 1980s American soap opera that explains how Russia feels about everything

In the post-Soviet experience, there was a special obsession with “Santa Barbara”, writes Mikhail Iossel.

In Russia in the 1990s, missed an episode of the American soap St. Barbara was “considered a personal mini-tragedy, writes Mikhail Iossel. Although the show’s particular post-Soviet obsession waned during Putin’s time, it never fully faded. In fact, according to Iossel, it continues to shape how Russians view the West on a daily basis.

In this collection of essays from our archive, we take a look at which popular TV shows, from St. Barbara in Chinese your shidai dramas, tell about the countries that produce and consume them – and how these shows often reflect and help shape national identity. –Chloe Hadavas



Left: An ad featuring a woman wearing a fur coat in Santa Barbara, Crimea. Right: An unfinished McMansion-style house in Santa Barbara, Kaliningrad.

The 1980s American soap opera that explains how Russia feels about everything

In the post-Soviet experience, there was a special obsession with “Santa Barbara”, writes Mikhail Iossel.



From left to right, Kalki Koechlin, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pankaj Tripathi, in a scene from Season 2 of Netflix's Sacred Games.

From left to right, Kalki Koechlin, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pankaj Tripathi, in a scene from Season 2 of Netflix’s Sacred Games.netflix

The Great Indian Wars of Streaming

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Me Too protest in China

Supporters of Zhou Xiaoxuan, a feminist who rose to prominence during China’s #MeToo movement, display posters in Beijing on December 2, 2020, during Zhou’s sexual harassment case against a TV host. CHRISTMAS CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

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A scene from "Babylon Berlin," now streaming on Netflix.  (Beta Movie)

A scene from “Babylon Berlin”, now streaming on Netflix. (Beta Movie)

German television sanitizes history

A new wave of historical dramas tell fake stories about the country’s past, writes Alan Posener.

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