Primetime Goes to Washington
As the presidential election heats up, the political scene is even more dramatic than your regularly scheduled TV programming. So it’s no surprise that some key political players have appeared on the small screen over the years — and not just to poke fun at themselves on Saturday Night Live or do a wholesome educational segment on Sesame Street. From First Ladies to Senators and silly sitcoms to serious dramas, here are 17 political cameos on some of your favorite shows.
Al Gore on 30 Rock in 2007 and 2009
The former Vice President and noted environmentalist appeared, playing himself, on the Tina Fey sitcom twice: First in 2007, on the season 2 episode “Greenzo,” then two years later in season 4’s “Sun Tea.”
Joe Biden on Parks and Recreation in 2012 and 2015
The politically themed Parks and Rec hosted various politicians over the course of its 7-season run, including two appearances from the Vice President. Biden made his first cameo on the sitcom in 2012, in the episode “Leslie vs. April,” and appeared again in the 2015 finale, which featured the show’s beloved characters ten years into the future.
Madeleine Albright on Gilmore Girls in 2005
The former Secretary of State appeared in a 2005 episode of the beloved dramedy entitled “Twenty-One Is the Loneliest Number.” On the eve of her 21st birthday, estranged from her actual mom Lorelai, Rory has a dream that Albright is her mother.
Tip O’Neil on Cheers in 1983
The Massachusetts Congressman (and then-Speaker of the House) stopped into the iconic Boston bar for a beer — and hung out with its staff and regulars — in the 1983 episode “No Contest.”
Newt Gingrich on Murphy Brown in 1996
House Speaker Gingrich played himself on a 1996 episode of the political satire, entitled “All Singing! All Dancing! All Miserable!” The heavily hyped episode was criticized for “going easy” on Gingrich.
Michelle Obama on Parks and Recreation in 2014
The First Lady appeared on the Parks and Rec’s season 6 finale in 2014, “Moving Up,” in which she helps convince Leslie Knope to take a job with the National Parks Service (and gives the starstruck Leslie an awkward high-five).
Chris Christie on The Michael J. Fox Show in 2013
Christie appeared as himself on a 2013 episode of Fox’s NBC sitcom, entitled “Bed Bugs.” After Christie promises to make a “special announcement,” Fox’s journalist characters interviews him, but falls asleep before the politician shares his news.
Nancy Reagan on Diff’rent Strokes in 1983
First Lady Nancy Reagan made a cameo in the season 5 Diff’rent Strokes episode “The Reporter” in 1983. She appeared as herself on the sitcom to promote her “Just Say No” campaign, showing up at Arnold’s school to speak to the students about the dangers of drug use.
John Kerry on Cheers in 1992
Senator Kerry was one of many Massachusetts politicians to make an appearance on Cheers, showing up in the 1992 episode “Bar Wars VI: This Time It’s for Real.”
Donna Brazile on The Good Wife in 2011, 2012, and 2013
The Democratic political strategist played herself in three episodes of The Good Wife — in the 2011 episode “Marthas and Caitlins,” 2012’s “After the Fall,” and 2013’s “The Decision Tree.” In 2014, Brazile wrote a letter in response to a New York Times critic who had been critical of political cameos on political TV shows, arguing, “Acting and politics both involve fooling people.”
Michael Dukakis on St. Elsewhere in 1985
Governor Dukakis appeared on the medical drama in the 1985 episode “Bye, George.” He limped into the hospital with an injured ankle, and was initially met with skepticism when he tried to check in as the Governor of Massachusetts.
John McCain on Parks and Recreation in 2012 and 2015
Senator McCain first appeared on Parks and Rec in 2012’s season 5 opener, entitled “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington,” which also featured cameos from Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe. He came back to the show in 2015, for the season 7 episode “Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington,” in which several other DC power players appeared as well.
Elizabeth Warren on Alpha House in 2014
The Amazon sitcom, about four senators living in a house together, is a perfect setting for Washingtonian cameos. The show has featured a variety of political players over its two seasons, including Warren, Anthony Weiner, Chuck Schumer, and John McCain.
Rudy Giuliani on Seinfeld in 1993
Giuliani’s Seinfeld cameo coincided with his election to the mayorship of New York City in 1993. He appeared in the season 5 episode, “The Non-Fat Yogurt,” in which Kramer accidentally contaminates Giuliani’s blood sample when trying to falsify proof that the non-fat frozen yogurt business in which he has invested is, in fact, non-fat. The Mayor blames his blood test results, which indicate high cholesterol levels, on eating frozen yogurt, so Kramer’s investment is ruined anyway.
Michael Bloomberg on The Good Wife in 2013
The New York City Mayor appeared on the legal drama in the 2013 episode “What’s in the Box,” which was the season 4 finale.
Michelle Obama on iCarly in 2011
The First Lady appeared as herself on the Nickelodeon series in a 2011 episode entitled “iMeet the First Lady,” in which she helped Carly deal with missing her military father while he was away.
Newt Gingrich on Parks and Recreation in 2013
Gingrich appeared on Parks and Rec by accident: He happened to show up at the steakhouse where the sitcom was filming and earned himself a brief cameo, on the spot, in season 5’s 2013 episode “Two Parties.”