The Daily Stream: Servant Of The People Will Bring You Laughter In The Dark

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "Servant of the People"

Where You Can Stream It: YouTube, Netflix

The Pitch: Vasyl Petrovitch Goloborodko (Volodymyr Zelensky, "Love in Vegas," "Corporal vs. Napoleon") is a passionate but downtrodden high school history teacher who still lives with his parents and is barely fending off his debt. One day, his students are taken away from the class to help with preparations for the upcoming election, and Vasyl unleashes a foul-mouthed rant about government corruption and leaders who are only interested in multiplying their own wealth. 

Unbeknown to him, the rant is filmed by one of Vasyl's students and uploaded to YouTube. Vasyl comes out of left field as a last-minute grass roots candidate and is voted in as the new president of Ukraine. In an Eastern European twist on "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Vasyl finds himself in a position to act on his bold words and be a better, less corrupt leader than the people of the world are used to settling for.

Why it's essential viewing

For one reason or another, quite a few of us are having trouble sleeping these days. If you've binge-watched "Parks and Recreation" and "Ted Lasso" to the point of exhaustion, and you're looking for a new sitcom to latch onto that's situated somewhere in the middle of those two shows, then this popular Ukrainian political satire might fit the bill. 

The politics of "Servant of the People" are broadly populist — anti-corruption, pro-transparency, anti-special treatment for elites, pro-accountability for public spending — and this, combined with recent history, means there actually isn't much suspension of disbelief required to buy into the premise. There are even shades of "Squid Game" (which arrived a few years later) in its furtive shots of Ukrainian oligarchs slowly coming to terms with the fact that they may no longer be in total control, and attempting to bring Vasyl back in line. 

Like "Squid Game," "Servant of the People" speaks to a bubbling global frustration that has only grown louder under the strain of the pandemic. It's wish fulfilment for an audience so jaded by political corruption that the idea of a leader who genuinely relates to and cares about their struggles seems like a novelty. And if you're just looking for a new show to binge-watch, it's pretty funny too.