Public Servant

Public Servant (Слуга народу in Ukrainian; Слуга народа in Russian) is a Ukrainian (and Ukrainian/Russian–language) drama that’s been on the air since 2015. So far it has two seasons and 24 episodes. A film is supposedly in the works.

The show tells the story of “the next president of Ukraine,” as its logo states. In the beginning of the series, the main character, a history teacher named Vasiliy Goloborodko (Василий Голобородько), is caught on camera—his student’s cell-phone video—criticizing the government in a fit of rage. The video gets a ton of views on the Internet, and Goloborodko, urged on his by students, enters his name as a candidate for president. Goloborodko turns from a simple teacher living with his parents into a major political figure overnight, and a new era in Ukrainian politics dawns.

The show has been very highly rated over its short existence so far, garnering millions of viewers, and is already airing in several other countries, including Estonia and Kazakhstan. Netflix has also bought the rights and is supposedly going to release a version dubbed in English. Unsurprisingly, the show has also gained a lot of criticism, mostly from conservative political figures who find its political commentary inappropriate. It has also been criticized for being too Russian, particularly in its frequent use of Russian over the Ukrainian language.

The show’s star, Volodimir Zelenskiy (in Ukrainian, Володимир Зеленський), is a popular comedian and comedic actor. Among other achievements, he cohosted I Want to Be in VIA Gra (Хочу V ВИА Гру) with Vera Brezhneva (Вера Врежнева), took part in Dancing with the Stars (Танці з зірками, the Ukrainian version), and was on KVN.

 

Director: Oleksiy Kyryushchenko (Олексій Кирющенко)
Stars: Volodimir Zelenskiy (Володимир Зеленський), Stanislav Boklan (Станіслав Боклан), Viktor Saraykin (Віктор Сарайкін), Katerina Kisten (Катерина Кистень), Nataliya Sumska (Наталія Сумська)
Production company: Studio Kvartal-95 (Студія Квартал-95)
TV channel: 1+1 (in Ukraine)

 

The show’s official website.

The show’s first two episodes:

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.