Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Swamp remains undrained in this trailer for HBO's new political documentary

Illustration for article titled iThe Swamp /iremains undrained in this trailer for HBOs new political documentary
Screenshot: HBO

Get Me Roger Stone was one of the most revealing and infuriating documentaries of the last several years, with filmmakers Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme unpacking how its subject’s history of “dirty tricks” are as effective in the political sphere as they are immoral. Now the duo’s using their access to infiltrate Congress, as their upcoming HBO documentary The Swamp focuses specifically on three Republican Congressmen and their individual views on what it means to “drain the swamp.”


Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ken Buck (R-CO), and the Quagmire-like Matt Gaetz (R-FL) serve as the vessels for the film’s year-long dig into how the American political system “rewards fundraising above all else.” And, per one talking head, “Politics of hate is the most productive technique for fundraising we have,” if you weren’t sure just how depressing this movie was going to be.

Watch the trailer below.

The documentary is rounded by chats with Democrat Congressmen like Ro Khanna (D-CA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD), as well as former Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA) and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig.


Read a synopsis:

Following the politicians over the course of 2019, the filmmakers took a cinema verité approach to exploring the realities of Congressional work in a dysfunctional system. With unfettered access to Gaetz, one of President Trump’s closest allies in Congress; Massie, who is known in Washington as “Mr. No” due to his independent voting record; and Buck, a founding member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus; the filmmakers trail the members as they navigate the potentially corrupting realities of their fundraising requirements, while providing honest insight into the intoxicating nature of the power they wield. Through candid interviews and revealing scenes beyond the usual news coverage, The Swamp highlights how the prevalence of lobbyists and special interest groups in Washington can influence policy based on financial contributions and how Congressmembers’ ability to get key committee assignments depends on how much money they are able to bring in, reflecting both their rank and their ability to affect legislation. 


The Swamp ascends from the muck on HBO and HBO Max on August 4.  

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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