NEAR NORTH — The Chicago-created web series that captured — and poked fun at — the historic 2008 presidential election has returned with more comedy for the 2016 campaign season.
"Citizen Kate," a mockumentary following a wide-eyed citizen journalist as she covers the campaign trail, has been rebooted for the 2016 election and now includes a new correspondent, Alexa Lopez. Kate, now played by Abby Vatterott, and Alexa, played by Kimberly Michelle Vaughn, provide viewers a fresh, witty commentary of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The series began in 2008 with Julia Saboda playing the original Kate Soglin, a fictional citizen journalist who provided colorful commentary on the qualities of great leaders, the intricacies behind covering the campaign and starkly contrasting opinions of the electorate. Over the course of the series, Kate talks with voters and political leaders like the Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and actor-turned-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Carey Lundin, creator of the series, said she wanted to satirize the situations she had witnessed in the political world in an entertaining and understandable way. When asked why the series wasn’t brought back for the 2012 election, Lundin said it lacked the same “massive, titanic shift” that was felt in the 2008 election.
“I’m really glad I did, because this really turned out to be a historic experience,” she said on her decision to start the series again. “Everybody’s scratching their heads. … It felt like the right election to do it. It’s a really good time to be doing this series.”
While covering campaign events for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the two performers interview real citizens within Democratic and Republican parties while playing improvisational characters. Lundin said she sought after a person of color to perform alongside Kate to provide an overlooked perspective that was missing from the first series, which, as she points out, could have been different with a person of color.
During their travels, the two capture perspectives from both sides of the aisle on controversial issues from abortion rights to immigration and gun rights. Their characters address underlying stereotypes including generalizations about Latinos, Trump’s controversial statements about women and minorities and sexism surrounding Clinton’s campaign.
Vaughn described listening to why a black voter supported Trump and enlightening him on the distasteful racial statements that GOP candidate had made, which caused the voter to reconsider his position. One of the takeaways from filming the show, she said, was to be more understanding of other people’s political viewpoints, adding that there’s a lot the country needs to discuss to figure out how best to move the country forward.
“At the end of the day, I always learn something new about America and also myself,” Vaughn said. “I learned that I can be judgmental. … Sometimes I’m so stubborn, and I need to be open to hearing what other people are saying.”
Vatterott said she hopes the series makes young voters in particular become more deeply engaged in politics. The series aims to be another outlet for informing younger voters about what’s happening in the election, she said.
“We want them to understand why they’re voting for who they’re voting for and why it’s important,” Vatterott said.
Here’s an episode of the series:
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