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“Servant of the People”

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I’m no longer a TV watcher, though during the pandemic I definitely enjoyed a few series from “Peaky Blinders” (eyes shut for certain scenes) to “Shtisel.” My brother recommended watching “Servant of the People.” If you haven’t yet heard of it, it is the 2015 Ukrainian TV series starring Volodmyr Zelensky as a high school history teacher who becomes president of Ukraine. My first job professionally as a photo editor in NYC, 1980, was at Magnum photo agency, in the library. It took me three months to be able to have my coffee while editing Susan Meiselas’ daily takes from El Salvador.

We are being inundated with disturbing scenes from Russia’s brutal attack on the Ukraine. So I wondered what the show would be like, what I might learn, and watched the first episodes riveted to YouTube. I’ve read a number of times how this particular show helped prepare Zelensky for his present role as president, but it is the scenes of places that now no longer exist, as well as the social commentary about politics and life in the Ukraine, that make this satire an eerily surreal experience to watch. I am grateful there is much to make me laugh. The subtitles are good in the first few episodes, and seemed to have disappeared mid-episode in the last one I watched, but I still could not turn it off. There are three seasons and 23 episodes. Check it out at youtube.com/watch?v=EBr6f8xp8Is.