Is President Obama already watching the next episode of True Detective? Does he already know how Homeland ends? What about Sons of Anarchy? An interesting but entirely speculative article published in the L.A. Times suggests that, yes, the leader of the free world has early access to episodes of popular TV shows that mere voting mortals like you and I cannot yet see.
More specifically, if the L.A. Times is to be believed, Obama is in a timezone of his own, a kind of POTUS future perfect in which he—and perhaps he alone—knows what will happen next to Detectives Hart and Cohle, already one step or more ahead of us in all the shows.
When the president met HBO's well-tanned CEO Richard Plepler at a State Department dinner last month, he apparently sensed an opportunity. Making clear that he was interested in both True Detective and Game of Thrones, Obama—according to the New York Times—"waved over one of his aides to make sure that Mr. Plepler knew where to send the DVDs to ensure they would make it through White House security and end up in the president's hands."
The L.A. Times goes speculative here, suggesting that, "being the president, it's a safe bet that Obama won't have to settle just for what's already available. He'll no doubt be relaxing with the entire first season of True Detective (only four episodes have aired for the rest of us) and a lot of the fourth season of Game of Thrones, which isn't scheduled to air until April 6."
He knows more about Game of Thrones than we do. He has seen the conclusion of True Detective. He is our televisual preagustator, a kind of media precog reviewing dramatic twists from an undisclosed location.
What interests me here is not the potential for an absurd conspiracy theory about who does or does not control the plots in Hollywood, but the Pyongyang-like notion that the President of the United States is sitting around somewhere with his feet kicked up watching Mad Men Season 8, already aware of Don Draper's fate, fast-forwarding—utterly blasé, this guy—through episode after episode of Better Call Saul, cackling over in-jokes told by characters you and I haven't even met yet. He's on to the next season already, the next series. He's watching Thor 3.
Sure, advance screener DVDs are not exactly uncommon, and it's hardly unbelievable to think that someone at HBO might be excited by the idea of messengering some spare copies over to the White House so that the President of the United States can catch up, in advance, killing time between signing treaties.
But it's just as interesting to think that there's some wild pork barrel media office somewhere, busy producing whole parallel seasons of popular TV shows that everyday consumers will never be aware of, a veritable magic kingdom of new plot lines and scenarios, all unfolding on an encrypted DVD player for an audience of one in D.C., with POTUS hitting pause during bathroom breaks and scratching his head over the insanity of Curb Your Enthusiasm season nine or Person of Interest 2015.