The acclaimed Irish political comedy-drama The Running Mate now streaming on MHz Choice!

Now Streaming

Hailed for its “keen, sharp satire” by Irish Independent and as “the best Irish-made drama in years” by The Irish Times, this 2007 limited series follows the exploits of Vincent Flynn, pub-owner, county councillor and lifelong Republican – the Irish Republican party Fianna Fáil, that is! Vince, fed up with having his grander political aspirations squashed by Paudie Counihan, the ruthless and corrupt local representative, decides to run against Counihan as an independent. Alcoholic ex-schoolteacher Willie Costello enthusiastically enlists as Vince’s reckless, spontaneous campaign manager, along with Vince’s pregnant daughter, Fiona, and party old-timer Paul “Polly” O’Sullivan. Together, this ramshackle team takes on the establishment – and they just might be crazy enough to win! As Anne Marie Hourihane noted in The Irish Times, the makers of The Running Mate “were clever enough to see that there is as much drama at the bottom of the political ladder as there is at the top”, concluding that “The Running Mate is a poll-topper.” TV reviewer Hilary Fannin was even more succinct, calling it “funny, smart and original” and “a political drama with balls.”

The series is in Irish and English – with English subtitles, of course – but because Irish English and Irish politics contain many terms and phrases unfamiliar to many of us North Americans, here’s a handy glossary of terms you may find helpful:

Boreen: a narrow country road

Buswells Hotel: famous politicians’ watering hole in Dublin, otherwise known as the “third house of Parliament”

Craic: general term for news or gossip, as in “What’s the craic?”

Dáil Éireann: the lower house of the Irish Parliament

Fianna Fáil: the Irish Republican Party, a conservative centrist party

Fine Gael: a progressive centrist party and Fianna Fáil’s traditional rival

Grinds schools: paid private tuition institutions focusing on exam techniques and the cramming of information

Oisín and Niamh: in Celtic mythology, Oisín (a human hero) and Niamh (a woman of Tír na nÓg, the Otherworld) fall in love. She brings him to Tír na nÓg on a magical horse that can travel over water. Willie tells this story to his class.

Sweeper: politically, referring to a minor candidate who “sweeps up” votes which can then be transferred to a more established candidate

Tánaiste: deputy head of the government of Ireland

Taoiseach: prime minister and head of government of Ireland

TD: stands for Teachta Dála, member of Parliament; equivalent to an MP in the UK or a Member of Congress in the US

Tír na nÓg: in Celtic mythology, a name for the Otherworld

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