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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.

Season 6 of THE CIRCUS premiered on Sunday, January 10, 2021 at 8pm ET/PT on Showtime, just after the crucial Georgia run-off elections that determined control of the U.S. Senate. The first half of Season 6 consists of eight episodes. Prominent political strategist and commentator Jennifer Palmieri joins the sixth season as a co-host along with John Heilemann, Alex Wagner and Mark Mckinnon. Palmieri was a guest contributor for Season 5 which had its finale on Sunday, November 8. In the one-hour season opener, "Raining Chaos," THE CIRCUS attempts to make sense of a country reeling from the grave implications of a Capitol siege. Incensed by the final blow of a Democratic controlled Senate, President Trump continues to stoke the political fire as his supporters riot to halt the now-certified Electoral Vote count. Hosts John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, Alex Wagner and Jenn Palmieri bring their perspective to the unfolding news, exploring the fallout of a turbulent week and the energy surging from the results of the Georgia run-off. On Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 8pm ET/PT, THE CIRCUS kicked off its eight-episode Fall run on Showtime. With Covid-19 resurgent, Afghanistan in chaos, Joe Biden's sweeping domestic agenda on the line in Congress and the Republican Party still in thrall to Donald Trump and his Big Lie about 2020 election fraud, THE CIRCUS once again will take viewers behind the scenes and beyond the headlines at a moment when American politics is more convulsive than ever -- and the stakes for the country have never been higher. Hosted by John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, Alex Wagner and Jennifer Palmieri.
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Tonight (Sunday, November 7, 2021) at 8pm ET/PT, Showtime premieres "The Broken Place," the Season 6 finale of THE CIRCUS. Hosts John Heilemann, Alex Wagner, Mark McKinnon and Jennifer Palmieri follow the drama on an election night showcasing Republican momentum and foreshadowing potentially catastrophic losses for Democrats in the 2022 midterms. The program tracks the fallout as the White House and Democratic leaders plot a path forward to pass the President's agenda, while Republicans dial up their electoral ambitions. Episode interviews include:

- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on his razor-thin victory and what Democrats can learn from his reelection.

- Recently departed White House senior adviser Anita Dunn on this precarious moment for Biden's presidency.

- South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third-highest ranking House Democrat, on the rapid push to pass President Biden's infrastructure and social spending bills this week.

- New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, on the lessons from this week's elections and how the party is preparing for the midterms.

Season 7 debuts in March 2022.

Cast

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Left/Right Productions