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The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth

The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth

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  • Premiered: 
    January 17, 2016
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Showtime
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Political
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Plot Synopsis

THE CIRCUS: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH is a weekly half-hour documentary series that features Bloomberg Politics managing editors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and political consultant Mark McKinnon revealing the intense, irreverent, inspiring and infuriating stories behind the headlines of the 2016 presidential race in the United States. This real-time documentary series follows multiple individual stories and key characters from the campaigns and captures their unique perspectives between January and November. With intimate, behind-the-scenes access, cameras also offer viewers a look at what the public rarely sees and explore the high human drama inherent in the pursuit of the Oval Office. After a three-month break, THE CIRCUS: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH returned with new episodes on Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime. While the nation celebrates July 4, Trump and Clinton engage in their own fireworks. With the reemergence of Clinton's email scandal and Trump's latest faux pas, the titans go on the attack to take each other down.

Season 2 of THE CIRCUS: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH premiered on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime. The new season examines the riveting and unprecedented events unfolding -- both inside and outside the Beltway -- in President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office. THE CIRCUS is hosted by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, with Mark McKinnon returning in a producing role with occasional guest appearances. The real-time documentary series follows the circus of American politics, political culture and government -- capturing pivotal moments, featuring interviews with key figures, and offering critical analysis of the stories behind each week's headlines.

The third season of THE CIRCUS returned on April 15, 2018 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime, with a run of new episodes to air in the spring and another in the fall. Hosted by John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, and Alex Wagner, who joins the show as a permanent host this season, THE CIRCUS continues to provide viewers with the same fast-paced, real-time, backstage perspective and eye-catching production qualities for which the show has been celebrated. In the year ahead, the series will explore the stories behind the headlines and pull back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes drama unfolding in Washington and across the country in the run-up to the most consequential mid-term elections in our lifetimes. The new season will once again take its cue from the narratives driving the national conversation from the White House to Congress to the fast-approaching, high-stakes mid-terms. The series follows the "circus" of American politics, society, and culture, capturing key moments, featuring interviews with newsmakers, and offering critical analysis of the stories driving the non-stop news cycle. The Season 3 fall premiere debuted Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime. With the Trump presidency facing an onslaught of new legal woes, Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina coast and the midterm elections looming, this episode features co-host John Heilemann's one-on-one interview with controversial former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in advance of the release of Bannon's inflammatory new documentary. Meanwhile, Mark McKinnon and Alex Wagner enter the war rooms of the Republican and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees to hear each side's strategy for the upcoming midterm battle. THE CIRCUS follows the latest turns in the Mueller investigation, including explosive developments regarding former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, and covers the heated fight over Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation. Plus, prominent political strategist and commentator Steve Schmidt joins THE CIRCUS as a recurring on-air contributor.

On Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 8pm ET/PT, Showtime premiered Season 4 of THE CIRCUS. Hosted by John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, and Alex Wagner, THE CIRCUS will venture behind the scenes in Washington and beyond, exploring the shifting power dynamics on Capitol Hill as Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, along with covering the escalating drama around President Donald Trump's White House as it grapples with mounting legal entanglements and continued scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. With the 2020 presidential race already taking shape, the series will also follow the burgeoning field of Trump challengers as they make their initial forays on the campaign trail.

THE CIRCUS returned for its fifth season on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime, -- a week before the crucial Iowa Democratic caucuses -- with John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon and Alex Wagner returning for Season 5. In tonight's episode, "Obligations and Opportunities," The Circus lives up to its name as the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump begins in earnest, and the all-important Iowa caucuses are less than two weeks away. With three of the top five presidential candidates locked in the Senate chamber hearing testimony, the Iowa race is too close to predict. Biden and Buttigieg have the state to themselves -- and they're taking advantage of it -- while Senators Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar must rely on surrogates at campaign events and off-hour interviews from DC. On Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 8pm ET/PT, Showtime premiered the mid-season premiere of THE CIRCUS.
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Tonight (Sunday, October 25, 2020) at 8pm ET/PT, Showtime premieres "End Games," a new episode of THE CIRCUS, which continues its fifth season this Sunday as the presidential candidates brace for the final dramatic weeks before Election Day. Hosts John Heilemann, Alex Wagner and Mark McKinnon, along with guest contributor Jennifer Palmieri, dive into a dizzying week of news that includes rising Covid cases across the country, Senate battles over the Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, and the final debate between Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. Episode interviews include:

- David Wasserman, the House editor for The Cook Political Report, who provides a data-driven look at the current state of the presidential race and why he believes the polling this year is more accurate than 2016.

- Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, who shares his take on the current state of the pandemic and concerns about spiking cases across the country.

- Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, who discusses the enforcement of rules on the debate stage in Nashville.

Cast

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Left/Right Productions