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Entertainment & Arts

President Obama names his favorite show of 2015 -- and no, it’s not ‘Homeland’

Barack Obama

President Obama waves from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. 

(Susan Walsh / AP)

President Obama’s favorite TV show of 2015 is set at a cash-strapped hospital where the electricity barely works and the staff includes a manager with mob ties, a cocaine-addicted chief surgeon who uses patients as guinea pigs for medical experiments and a nun who moonlights as an abortionist. [Insert your Obamacare joke here.]

In an interview with People magazine, the president named Cinemax’s “The Knick” as his favorite show of the last 12 months. 

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For those not yet familiar, the drama, now in its second season, stars Clive Owen as John Thackery, a brilliant but erratic surgeon at the Knickerbocker Hospital in grimy downtown Manhattan in the early 1900s. Think “House” meets “The Gangs of New York.”

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In an unusual feat, the entire series is directed by one filmmaker, Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh, and was created by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler.

While “The Knick” hasn’t yet penetrated the cultural conversation the way some other small-screen dramas have, it is notable for its stomach-churning surgical scenes, painstaking recreation of turn-of-the-century New York and perhaps most of all for Soderbergh’s kinetic filmmaking style. Performances by Owen, who was nominated for a Golden Globe last year, and André Holland, who plays gifted African American physician Algernon Edwards, have also garnered praise.

“Obviously we’re flattered that the president loves ‘The Knick,’” said Richard Plepler, chief executive of HBO, in a statement to the Times.  "We always knew he had great taste.”

Perhaps First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t share her husband’s tolerance for gore: She told People her favorite show is the ABC sitcom “Blackish.”   

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The commander in chief clearly prides himself on keeping current with TV’s prestige dramas. Back in 2012, he was obsessed with "Homeland” just like the rest of the country, though it’s unclear whether he stuck with the spy thriller after that whole pacemaker incident

In his 2014 State of the Union speech, he name-checked AMC’s advertising drama “Mad Men” to make the case for equal pay for women. Members of the cast, including lead Jon Hamm, even visited the White House during the show’s farewell tour in March. 

Then there’s HBO’s hit fantasy epic “Game of Thrones.” In an interview for GQ, Obama told Bill Simmons he is an avid fan of the violent series though, like many other viewers, he has trouble keeping track of the names of the many characters in the sprawling ensemble. Asked which character he most identifies with, Obama said he related to "the dwarf...what’s his name?” (pssst, Mr. President, it’s Tyrion Lannister). 

POTUS’ admiration of HBO’s urban saga “The Wire” runs so deep that he even interviewed creator David Simon at the White House this year. Their conversation touched on the war on drugs, mass incarceration, public education and Obama’s love for Omar.

Other titles that have shown up in his DVR cue include “Breaking Bad,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Boardwalk Empire.”  

For what it’s worth, Obama’s watchlist also includes some truly guilty pleasures: He also told GQ he enjoys the golfing reality show, “Big Break." 

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Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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