Servant of the People is a Ukrainian political satire comedy television series created and produced by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who stars as Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko, a high-school history teacher in his thirties who is unexpectedly elected President of Ukraine after a viral video filmed by one of his students shows him making a profane rant against government corruption in his country. The series ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2019, and a film adaptation was released in 2016.
The series was produced by Kvartal 95, which was founded by Zelenskyy. It would become much more involved in Ukraine’s actual politics; on 31 March 2018, a political party named after the television series was registered with the Ministry of Justice, and Zelenskyy was actually elected President of Ukraine on 21 April 2019, with over 70 percent of the second-round vote.
The Plot: Filmed by a student when launching a profane rant about corruption in Ukraine, who uploads the footage to YouTube, Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko (Volodymyr Zelenskyy), an absent-minded high-school history teacher who lives with his parents, turns into an Internet sensation overnight. Goloborodko’s students launch a crowdfunding campaign for registering his candidacy in Ukraine’s presidential race unbeknownst to him, eventually propelling their flabbergasted teacher to political victory as the new President of Ukraine. While in office, Vasily is confused at his newfound responsibilities, but gradually eases into his presidential duties and decides to weed out corruption in his government.
Starring: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Natalya Sumskaya, Viktor Saraykin
Servant of the People
| | | TV Comedies
Sometimes life actually does imitate art. Maybe not exact, but enough so that it warrants notice. This is one of those stories.
I have to admit that up until the first Trump impeachment, I really had no idea who Volodymyr Zelenskyy was. Throughout the impeachment all we really heard about the guy was that he was some kind of comedian and actor in Ukraine that had somehow ran and got elected as president. The general image of Zelenskyy among people in the US was that he was basically a ‘clown’ who became the improbable leader of Ukraine. Once he had to deal with the bullshit Russia is throwing at Ukraine today, Zelenskyy has emerged as an admired leader of his country in the face of a major war.
But who is Volodymyr Zelenskyy? I’m guessing that much of the initial Western view of him was defined by this Ukraine television series that depicts the new comedian-turned-president as a bumbling and confused accidental leader whom the established powerbrokers wondered how the fuck he got there. But that really isn’t Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy may have portrayed his character as a guy thrust in way over his head, but in reality, he wasn’t a history teacher, he was an actor. Prior to his acting career, he obtained a degree in law from the Kyiv National Economic University. He then pursued comedy and created the production company Kvartal 95, which produced films, cartoons, and TV shows including the TV series Servant of the People It was the employees of his production company that started the “Servant of the People” political party.
A while back, Netflix had yanked this series from their platform in 2021 because of poor American viewership. I suspect that the reason why it was receiving poor ratings is because the entire series is in Russian, with English subtitles, and Americans are a lazy, if not illiterate bunch of yahoos. “If it ain’t in English, then fuck y’all, I’m not watchin’ it.”
I, too, tend to shy away from subtitled shows. It does detract from the action when you have to divert your attention to read the dialog being spoken. But since Zelenskyy intrigues me as a charismatic leader currently under fire, I suppressed my urges to change the channel and take the time to read and watch.
This is a purposely funny show. Zenenskyy is a good actor and comedian. He wrote, produced, and acted in this entire series and I can see how he captured the minds and affection of the Ukraine people enough that they would vote for an entertainer to lead them over a Russian puppet candidate.
I’ve only gotten about eight episodes into this 23-episode series. I’ve been thoroughly entertained by it all. I am really enjoying the pre-war images of Ukraine and it saddens me that a lot of his has been destroyed by Putin’s unnecessary war of aggression and conquest.
Bear in mind that while this is a case of life imitating art, it is only an imitation, not a real-life documentary. The story is fictional and should be viewed as such. People, places and things depicted in this series is only coincidental.