They're Just Like Us! Senators Sound Off on Favorite TV Shows
NILES, IL - JANUARY 31: Nick Hehn shops for flat-panel wide screen televisions at a Best Buy store January 31, 2006 in Niles, Illinois. Sales of televisions are reportedly up after the Holiday season as the NFL's Super Bowl approaches. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)Tim Boyle / Getty Images
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Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, loves ABC's "Modern Family." And like a typical New Yorker, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer can’t get enough “Law and Order.”
It’s rare for the Senate to agree on just about anything these days, and that includes what to watch on television. Nearly 30 senators answered an NBC News survey of their favorite TV shows, and there is little overlap in the upper chamber over what is best viewing after a long day on Capitol Hill.
The most popular answer was sports (7), followed by “Seinfeld” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (tied at 3), and CBS’ “Blue Bloods” (2). Washington-centric shows like HBO’s “VEEP,” Showtime’s “Homeland,” and CBS’ “Madam Secretary” each got one vote. No senators gave a nod to AMC’s much talked about “Mad Men.”
For Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the Super Bowl is his favorite TV show.
“Because the teams play by the rules, which is a good example for the United States Senate,” Alexander said (though this was before the NFL's "Deflategate" report came out).
Sen. Daniel Coats, R-Ind., regularly watches ESPN's "Sports Center," while Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., is hooked to fishing shows. And John Hoeven, R-N.D., is a big college football, basketball and hockey fan.
And Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., takes his Nebraska Cornhusker pride very seriously.
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“In Nebraska, Husker football is a quasi-religious experience so, while we don’t spend much time watching television at our house, we often have ESPN or the Big Ten Network on—looking for recruitment updates, watching scouting reports, or reliving the drama of Coach Osborne’s January 2, 1984 ‘Go For Two.’”
And, yes, Democrats watch sports too. Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., is a huge Detroit Tigers & Ohio State Buckeyes fan, while Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., watches the Portland Trailblazers (who are no longer in the NBA playoffs).
Three Democrats -- New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich, Connecticut’s Christopher Murphy and Hawaii’s Brian Schatz -- makeup the “Game of Thrones” fan club. Schatz watches the fantasy series because “it’s about politics.” (PolitiFact rating: True.)
The only show with bipartisan appeal is CBS’spolice drama, "Blue Bloods" – Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., both listed as their favorite show; Manchin said he also watches CBS's "Person of Interest."
"The teams play by the rules, which is a good example for the United States Senate,” GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said.
"Seinfeld" was the pick by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Durbin also watches all of Anthony Bourdain’s shows and "60 Minutes."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she can’t decide among HBO's "Veep," CBS's "The Good Wife," and Netflix's "House of Cards," all shows with strong women leads. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has similar taste, naming CBS’s “Madam Secretary” as her favorite show at the moment, but the "Mary Tyler Moore" show as her favorite show of all-time.
Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., both have a penchant for British TV: Warner loves "Sherlock," and Whitehouse is a big "Downton Abbey" fan.
And Sen. Lee isn’t the only Republican who enjoys a sitcom. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., digs CBS's "Big Bang Theory," while Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., enjoys the AMC drama “The Walking Dead.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is the only Republican who watches anything related to politics – Showtime's "Homeland."
And while Senator John Thune, R-S.D., loves to quote Seinfeld, his favorite show is NBC's "The Blacklist," because the “undercover drama” reminds him of "24" – which, by the way, is Sen. John Boozman's, R-Ark., top pick.
When it comes to comedy, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., watches "Saturday Night Live" – and not just because Andy Samberg is her third cousin. And Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., watches "The Late Show with David Letterman" (which recently had its final show).
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is the most adventurous out of the bunch, with a penchant for the Discovery Channel’s "Dual Survival" show.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says he prefers to stick to the news.
As for Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., he like to score some major dad points by letting his kids control the remote.
Rachel Witkin is a desk assistant at the Washington bureau of NBC News.