The Circus: Inside The Greatest Political Show On Earth

September 13, 2016

Picking up speed ahead of Election Day, SHOWTIME’s The Circus is back with brand new episodes! We caught up with co-creator, co-executive producer, and co-host, Mark McKinnon, to get an insider’s look into how the show is made. Make sure to catch up on previous episodes, and tune in every Sunday at 8/7c to catch a new episode of The Circus.


With so much going on in the presidential race and in the world, how do you decide what to feature on each episode?

We follow the most compelling narratives each week. But unlike news coverage, we get behind the stories to communicate not just what happened, but why it happened, how it happened, and who made it happen.

What do you hope people take away from The Circus?

We hope that viewers come away with a much better understanding and appreciation for what goes on in campaigns. We want voters to appreciate that while it can all get crazy and infuriating, campaigning for the presidency of the United States is the most important job in the world and a noble pursuit.

What is it like to play a major role, on screen, in your own show?

It’s very strange for me as I used to be the guy on the other side of the camera, directing political ads. My intention was never to be in the show. But the dominoes just fell that way and we discovered a great chemistry between the co-hosts.

As a former top advisor to George W. Bush, do you miss being in a candidate’s corner?

Not a bit. Campaigns are a human microwave. And my brain has been fried too many times. But I love the spectacle and all the drama and characters that surround campaigns. Which is why I wanted to make this show.

Do you feel a responsibility to show a side of these candidates that mainstream media doesn’t?

Absolutely. That’s a driving mission of the show. News generally only captures a very one-dimensional perspective. We strive to show the human side of the candidates. How they interact behind the scenes, with staff, with family, with real people when they are not under the glare of news cameras. We want viewers and voters to get a nuanced, contextualized and more honest view of the candidates so they can make more informed decisions.

How hard is it to stay non-partisan when editing the show?

Actually not hard at all! My co-hosts are respected and objective journalism veterans who go above and beyond to make sure there is no partisan bent to our coverage. I worked for 15 years for Democrats, and 15 years for Republicans. And I helped co-found the bi-partisan organization No Labels that seeks to bring the parties together to find common ground and problem solve. Most viewers believe we are fair and play it straight. For those who don’t, half think we are in the tank for Clinton, half think we’re in the tank for Trump. So, I think that’s a good sign.


Stream previous episodes, and tune in every Sunday at 8/7c to catch a new episode of The Circus.

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