Did you know CNN has a web series? I didn’t. It’s called Freshman Year and while it might sound like a coming-of-age college romp, it is far from it. Here’s the gist: two Congress n00bs, Jared Polis (D) and Jason Chaffetz (R) carry around Flip cams and chronicle their first terms in the House.
Polis is an openly gay man and former Internet entrepreneur elected to represent Colorado’s second district. Chaffetz is a conservative, “former chief-of-staff to Utah’s governor and married father of three who sleeps on a cot in his congressional office to save money,” according to the Freshman Year website.
In jest, Richard Galant, Sr. Producer for CNN.com, said “[Chaffetz] doesn’t mind sleeping on a cot in his office —except when the Zamboni-like cleaning machine comes down the hallway in the middle of the night, beeping loudly, or when the sirens for the emergency alert system are tested overnight.”
Chaffetz represents Utah’s third district. Politics and the people. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. In fact, what is fun and interesting about the series is the inside look it gives you into the lives of the two Congressman. The latest episode gives a behind-the-scenes look at Stephen Colbert’s interview with Polis (imagine if the comedy-personality himself actually made it to the presidency, while we’re on the subject).
In a world of hidden scandals and thick walls which “shield” the public from the harsh realities of political life, Freshman Year comes in and brings us footage of the candidates, as they are in their daily lives, pitfalls, pastimes, and progress. The show has a documentary sort-of feel. Freshman Year doesn’t stay away from tough topics either, often confronting representatives on issues such as health-care reform.
So how did the idea come to be? “We were brainstorming ideas for First 100 days of the Obama administration and thought it would be interesting to take advantage of web video to give a behind the scenes glimpse of freshman congressmen in this new administration,” said Galant. “We lent them Flip Camera HD and asked them to shoot video and send us the clips, along with text commentary pieces.”
So far, 14 episodes have aired at around 7-8 minutes each. They started off at about a new episode each week but seemed to have fallen to 1-2 per month.