TV's Best Fictional Government Shutdowns

Maybe D.C. politicians can take a word of advice from Leslie Knope and Leo McGarry.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer and Anna Chlumsky as Amy in "VEEP."
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Government shutdowns are no laughing matter, unless they're on television, where they have popped up as plot lines a lot more frequently than the 17 years it's been since the last time the actual federal government closed its doors. If you are stuck home on furlough or just want to see how your favorite fictional politicians managed to come to a deal, here's what to watch:

"West Wing:" "Separation of Powers" and "Shutdown" (Season 5)


At the last minute of CR negotiations,Speaker of the House Haffley changes the terms of his agreement with President Bartlet, who refuses the deal on the spot. Cue the staff furloughs (Bye Margaret and Donna!), the tourists whining about the National Archives being closed and plenty of partisan blaming.

[READ: Political Ping Pong, ‘West Wing’ Marathon, Await Furloughed Federal Workers]

Chief of Staff Leo McGarry tries to talk Bartlet into a compromise, telling him, "Its not always enough to be right." The episode culminates with Bartlet and Haffley facing off in the Oval Office – "I am not going to negotiate with anyone who holds a gun to my head," Bartlet scolds – until the two eventually hammer out a budget. Watch the full episodes on Amazon Prime.

"Parks and Recreation:" "The Master Plan," "Freddy Spaghetti" and "Go Big and Go Home" (Seasons 2 and 3)


Leslie Knope's excitement of her Pawnee parks department budget proposal – or "The Master Plan" as she calls it – is quashed when state auditors (Ben and Chris, in their first appearance on the show) tell her they will have to shut down the government due to massive deficits.

[ALSO: From C-SPAN to Sitcom: Senators Cameo on ‘Parks and Recreation’]

The shutdown threatens a planned Freddy Spaghetti concert, so Leslie wrangles through loopholes to keep it going. Libertarian Ron Swanson is delighted to be in charge of budget-cutting task force until he is told firing Leslie is one of the measures at hand. He offers to sacrifice himself, and Leslie ultimately becomes a member of the task force. The Pawnee government is opened three months later, as Ben and Chris continue their counsel and become major characters on the show. Watch the full episodes on Netflix.

"VEEP:" "Shutdown" (Season 2)


Vice President Selina Meyer tries her best to broker a deal to avoid a shutdown, but POTUS undermines her, as is usually the case on "VEEP." Meyer finds a silver lining in the shutdown-required furlough in that she can temporarily fire whatever staff member is annoying her the most.

[RECAP: ’VEEP’ Season 2, Episode 7: One Veep’s Trash ]

But the shutdown ultimately bring her more trouble than good: Gary causes a PR and personal fiasco when he orders a private contractor to pick up her trash. Watch the full episode on HBO Go

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