Director: Oleksiy Adolfovich Kiryushchenko.
Number of episodes: 51.
Number of seasons: 3.
The series also became a feature film in 2016.
The Ukrainian TV series “Servant of the People” became a smash hit in its home country when it premiered in 2015. The Russian-language series is about history teacher Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, who one day has a tantrum that is secretly filmed by his students. Furiously, he complains to a colleague about the country’s power-hungry, empathetic and corrupt politicians, and the clip is posted on YouTube.
Soon, many millions of people have seen and applauded the clip, and Holoborodko allows himself to be persuaded by the students to submit his candidacy for the presidential election. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, he wins.
That reality would surpass the poem four years later is one of the most unlikely events in both popular cultural and political history. The actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy lacked political experience but quickly became the leading candidate in opinion polls ahead of the 2019 election. During the election campaign, he positioned himself as an anti-establishment and anti-corruption politician, just like his character, and his party was named Servant of the People.
Zelenskyy defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko with over 73 percent of the vote and has now been Ukraine’s president for three years.
In connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year, interest in “Servant of the People” increased like an avalanche worldwide. After pressure, Netflix announced in March that it was reintroducing the series to the American supply after previously having it available between 2017 and 2021. Also, among others, the British BBC, MBC in the Middle East, ANT1 in Greece and PROTV in Romania bought the series after the invasion.
Part of Ukraine’s history
In Sweden, SVT jumped on the bandwagon and right now the series can be seen on SVT Play.
— It is clear that we have thought about whether it makes sense to broadcast an action comedy with elements of bushis at the same time as an incredibly terrifying and brutal war is going on. But it must be remembered that this is fiction, and that it is an important part of Zelensky’s and modern Ukraine’s history, SVT’s program director Eva Beckman has previously told “Kulturnyheterna”.
It is the Swedish distribution company Eccho Rights that owns the rights to the three seasons of “Servant of the People” as well as the film of the same name that came out in 2016. The company’s CEO Nicola Söderlund sees the series as an important document about where Zelenskyj comes from, and emphasizes that his fictional president is a normal man who grows into his role as a heroic and beloved leader.
“While the real-life scenario facing Zelenskyi and the Ukrainian people is far more grim and terrifying than the comedy of the series, there are obvious parallels to the real-life situation and ‘Servant of the People’ is a fascinating, important and historic piece of television,” has Söderlund previously said in a press release.
Putin didn’t look
And Russia then? In 2020, the 38.5 million Russians who had access to the TNT TV channel could watch “Servant of the People” there. At the time, fighting had been going on in eastern Ukraine since 2014 when Russia, in violation of international law, annexed the Crimean peninsula. When Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson was asked if Putin would also watch “Servant of the People”, the short answer was:
— He doesn’t have time.