Politics in Fictional Entertainment: An Empirical Classification of Movies and TV Series

Christiane Eilders, Cordula Nitsch


This article presents conceptual considerations on the classification of TV series and movies according to their political references and introduces an empirical approach for measuring the constituent features. We argue that political representations in fiction vary along two dimensions: political intensity and degree of realism. These dimensions encompass four indicators relating to characters, places, themes, and time. The indicators were coded for a sample of 98 TV series and 114 movies. Cluster analyses showed four clusters of TV series and six clusters of movies. Nonpolitical fiction, thrillers, and fantasy were central types in both TV series and movies. Movies, however, stand out through a greater diversity and a focus on the past that is reflected in three additional types. Based on the identification of different types of movies and TV series, three directions for theory building are suggested.


fictional entertainment, TV series, movies, classification, political intensity, degree of realism

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