Election-Themed Documentaries, Series and Specials to Watch This Fall

By
Fall Preview: Election
Showtime / ABC / Freeform

With the 2020 presidential election getting closer by the day, the race has become primetime viewing this fall. Sure, there are plenty of new scripted series and films coming out on demand despite the coronavirus pandemic, but those escapes won't keep viewers informed on what matters most.

Between now and Nov. 3, there are several all-new specials, featuring the likes of puppets, a reunited West Wing cast and an animated version of Black-ish, and politically themed shows hosted by Kal Penn and Larry Wilmore, urging viewers to move from the couch to the polls. Additionally, there is no shortage of current or upcoming docuseries, from Showtime's real-time look at both campaigns to Agents of Chaos on HBO, and non-fiction films exploring everything from voter suppression to the biggest issues affecting voters the most.

Here is everything to watch or stream.

Agents of Chaos

Now streaming on HBO and HBO Max

Filmmaker Alex Gibney’s latest two-part documentary dives deep into the reporting on Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to HBO, the film, which features “revelations confirmed by the recently released Senate Intelligence Report,” is “an urgent warning to Americans in the lead-up to the 2020 election.”


All In: The Fight for Democracy

Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Led by Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the new documentary examines the ongoing issue of voter suppression in the United States through personal experiences, current activism and historical insight, giving viewers an insider’s look into the laws and barriers to voting that most people are unaware of.


The Circus: Inside the Craziest Political Campaign on Earth

Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime

Now in its fifth season, the docuseries offers a real-time look at the campaign leading up to the 2020 presidential election as it “pulls back the curtain on the Trump era of presidential politics, revealing the stories behind the headlines.”


Kal Penn Approves This Message

Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform and Hulu

Hosted by Kal Penn, the six-part, election-themed series designed to engage Millennial and Gen Z voters with discussions, interviews and field pieces about the issues affecting them most. Each episode will explore everything from voter basics, to the economy to climate change, all with the intention of “kicking 2020 in the ballots."


On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries

Now Streaming on HBO Max

While the presidential primary season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t stop CNN from covering the pool of Democratic candidates, who were still hoping to secure the party’s nomination at the time. The film provides an inside look at what it’s like to be on the road with candidates as they go from stump events to debates to unexpected ends.


Wilmore

Fridays on Peacock

Part of the streaming network’s entry into the late-night sphere alongside The Amber Ruffin Show, Larry Wilmore’s weekly series will feature hot takes on the latest news and in-depth discussions with high-profile people about the biggest issues leading up to the election.


The Comey Rule

Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime

The Comey Rule is a scripted political ensemble revisiting James Comey’s time as the FBI Director leading up to the 2016 presidential election and what immediately followed after Donald Trump moved into the White House. Based on Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty, the series goes inside the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the controversial decision to reopen the case less than a month before the election. It also unpacks the contentious relationship between the bureau and the president over its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election that led to Comey’s untimely firing.


Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates

biden trump
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sept. 29, Oct. 7, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT

Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will face off in three scheduled debates, with the first focused on the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy and race relations. The second will take the form of a town hall with questions from citizens. Meanwhile, Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, and Vice President Mike Pence will square off in just one debate in between the first and second presidential events.


Let's Be Real

Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox

From the minds behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog comes an all-new, election-themed puppet special that will provide a satirical look at the current political and pop culture landscape ahead of the 2020 election through topical sketches, celebrity cameos and more.


Black-ish, "Election Special Pt. 1 and Pt. 2"

BLack-ish animated special
ABC

Oct. 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC

Ahead of its seventh season, the long-running ABC comedy will debut a two-part special following the Johnson family as they navigate the upcoming election. The first half hour will see Junior (Marcus Scribner) trying to understand the ins and outs of voter registration as he prepares to vote for the first time. The second half will see the cast get animated as a family friend makes an ill-advised decision to run for Congress, enlisting the Johnsons’ help with campaigning and fundraising.


A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote

martin sheen west wing reunion
Eddy Chen

Oct. 15 on HBO Max

The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and the cast are reuniting for a staged performance of the season 3 episode “Hartsfield’s Landing” to benefit When We All Vote. Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Martin Sheen will all reprise their roles while Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda will make special appearances. Additionally, composer W.G. Snuffy Walden will perform the series’ iconic score while The Avett Brothers will close out the special.


The Way I See It

Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MSNBC

Directed by Dawn Porter, the new documentary goes behind the scenes of Barack Obama’s most iconic and memorable photos during his two terms as president with the person who captured it all, photographer Pete Souza. The film also shows how Souza went from an observer to commentator as he reframed those photos in response to the actions and comments by the president that followed.


What the Constitution Means to Me

Oct. 16 on Amazon Prime Video

Created by and starring Heidi Schreck, the filmed version of the critically acclaimed, award-winning play What the Constitution Means to Me tells the story of a 15-year-old Heidi who earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions. Decades later, Heidi resurrects her teenage self in order to reexamine her and other women’s relationship to the founding document.

RELATED CONTENT:

Here Are 15 New Fall TV Shows to Watch in 2020

Every Movie Streaming, On Demand and in Theaters This Fall

Awards Season Calendar: Updates on 2021 Oscars, Golden Globes and More

Related Gallery