'Boardwalk' 'Thrones' among Obama's TV picks.

AuthorShear, Michael D.

Byline: Michael D. Shear

WASHINGTON -- War, terrorism, economic struggle, mass shootings -- such is life in the Oval Office for President Barack Obama.

Yet in his few quiet moments, this president seeks not to escape to the delicious back-stabbing of the "Real Housewives'' or the frivolity of the singing teens on "Glee.'' By his own accounts, Obama is drawn in his spare time to shows such as HBO's "Game of Thrones'' and "Boardwalk Empire,'' the kind of heavy, darkly rendered television that echoes the sadness and strife that make up so much of his workday.

These days, when Obama retreats to the White House residence after a long day on the other end of the colonnade, he is working his way through the DVD box set of AMC's "Breaking Bad,'' the award-winning TV drama about a drug-dealing high school teacher. The show just ended after five seasons, but the president is way behind and frequently reminds those around him not to give anything away.

Friends say Obama is also keenly awaiting the new season of the Netflix show "House of Cards,'' which starkly depicts a dysfunctional Washington, a theme that must seem all too familiar. At a meeting of technology executives last week, Obama jokingly lamented his own inability to maneuver the halls of Congress in the way of Kevin Spacey's character Frank Underwood.

"I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,'' Obama was overheard saying to Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO, who invited the president to do a cameo on the show. Obama joked of the sleazy, congressman-murderer Underwood: "This guy's getting a lot of stuff done.''

It may be a fool's errand to psychoanalyze anyone -- let alone a sitting president -- based only on the books he reads or the music he listens to, or the TV shows he watches.

Bill Clinton was a fan of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy,'' the medical-student drama, and "Boston Legal,'' the sometimes goofy courtroom saga starring William Shatner. Clinton also liked "24,'' Fox's terrorism cliffhanger, and -- you guessed it -- ABC's "Scandal,'' a political thriller set in Washington. Ronald Reagan, a former actor, once...

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