Presidents Day 2022 weekend is upon us: a time to reflect on the storied cast of characters who’ve occupied the Oval Office. As we look for activities to fill the extra-long winter weekend, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about our Commanders in Chief—and TV is here to help. From a new miniseries to old classics, today’s blog will help you find the best onscreen content for Presidents Day 2022.
Abraham Lincoln, The History Channel
From the novel by Gore Vidal to the movie by Steven Spielberg, the story of the great emancipator is perhaps the most well-known of all of our presidents. So what more, you might ask, is there to say about him? Turns out, plenty. Premiering on February 20th, this three-part miniseries will trace the life of our 16th president from his impoverished childhood in Illinois to his tragic assassination in Ford’s Theater. The format is innovative, with live-action scenes starring Emmy-nominee Graham Sibley alongside interviews with the likes of President Barack Obama, General Stan McCrystal, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, upon whose book Leadership: In Turbulent Times the series is based. A can’t-miss premiere for Presidents Days 2022.
On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries, HBO Max
America’s presidential campaign season, by far the longest in the world, is grueling and exhausting for candidates and reporters alike. Throw the COVID pandemic into the mix, and you get the recipe for some incredibly topsy-turvy months. This 2020 documentary, directed by Katie Hinman and Toby Oppenheimer, traces the story of a team of veteran CNN journalists as they pack up, leave their families, and head out to report on the primaries from the snows of Iowa to the sun of California. Featuring behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews, On the Trail will show you what campaign coverage is really like – not just what you see on TV.
John Adams, HBO
An enigmatic, contradictory figure, John Adams lived a life that lends itself to dramatization. An earnest lawyer who defended the redcoats after the Boston Massacre, he was also an ardent supporter of independence who negotiated the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. Our first vice president and second president, Adams prevented a war with France but also signed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts. This seven-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as Adams and Laura Linney as wife Abigail garnered four Golden Globes and 13 Emmy Awards. Directed by the award-winning Tom Hooper, who went on to direct The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, and The Danish Girl, John Adams is a look at the founding of our nation through the eyes of one of its least-understood protagonists.
American Experience, PBS
For nearly 25 years, the PBS show American Experience has been opening our eyes to our national history. In its archive section, The Presidents, you can find an incredible collection of films, documentaries, and articles on everything presidential, from Murder of a President, the story of James Garfield, to probing documentaries on everyone from George H.W. Bush to Ulysses S. Grant. Perfect for a Presidents Day weekend binge—or for that school assignment due on Tuesday!
Bringing history to life
If we truly want to understand our diverse democracy, we also need to understand our history—and seeing our presidents onscreen, as living, breathing human beings, brings that history to life, making it both relatable and relevant. Unfortunately, many Americans still lack the highspeed internet that allows them to access the streaming shows and educational content that come with it. To find out how Beyond is helping expand internet access for everyone, visit our Broadband for All page here.