[[caption-width-right:332:"I'm just Farmer John..."]]

->''"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."''

2008 US {{Creator/HBO}}'s MiniSeries about the life of UsefulNotes/JohnAdams, second President of the United States, from his defense of the soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre in 1770 to his death in 1826. It's based on the biography by David [=McCullough=], and is divided into seven parts.

Two major themes stand out throughout this work: "Behind every great man is a great woman" and "The more things change, the more they stay the same".

Starring Creator/PaulGiamatti as John Adams and Creator/LauraLinney as Abigail Adams.

!!This mini series contains examples of:

* AluminumChristmasTrees: Yes, we do have Thomas Jefferson to thank for the swivel chair.
%%* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Charles to John Quincy.
* AntiVillain: John Dickinson, who's adamantly opposed to independence but for very sympathetic and understandable reasons. This is markedly different from most other portrayals like ''1776''.
** Similarly, King George III is sympathetically treated when Adams actually meets him. Evidently TruthInTelevision.
** Captain Preston and the British soldiers in Boston accused of murder are shaken and scared at what happened, and genuinely think they acted in self-defense. Adams is able to successfully defend them by demonstrating this.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Putting aside the fact that [[MST3KMantra there's reasonable limitations]] on how true-to-life historical dramas can get, there are some inaccuracies and changes that stand out:
** The [[TarAndFeathers tarring and feathering]] of a British customs official. Not only was this scene ''not'' present in the original book, it depicts the use of ''petroleum'' tar (AKA asphalt/bitumen) on the victim. The [[http://allthingsliberty.com/2013/12/5-myths-tarring-feathering/ actual sort of tar]] used for tarring and feathering was ''pine'' tar, which has a melting point of 55 to 60 °C (130 to 140 °F) compared to petroleum tar's 100-190 °C (212-380 °F). Suffice to say, this change makes an act meant to be uncomfortable and humiliating into a (very likely) CruelAndUnusualDeath.
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: The prestige gained by Washington as the main general of the Continental Army makes him a virtually uncontested candidate for the first presidency, much to Adams' chagrin.
* AssInAmbassador: Adams, to a degree while representing America in France. Franklin eventually gets him removed because of it. Ambassador Genet while whipping up support for the French in America is very much this.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther: The entire scene where John Adams and Thomas Jefferson reconcile through an exchange of letters. In one scene, it's revealed that Jefferson has a bust of Adams in Monticello.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: Or rather, Awesome Moment of Swearing In. UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington becoming the first president is truly a sight to behold. From the other Founding Fathers gathering behind him to walking towards the balcony where the audience hears the buzz of a crowd until a woman shouts "There he is!" and thousands of people cheer as Washington appears to take his oath. "God bless George Washington! President of the United States!"
** Though Washington does deflate the mood a bit with his soft-spoken taking of the oath, forcing everyone to lean forward.
* BaldOfAwesome: John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are both balding.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Charles does this to John in "Unite or Die," when he describes their lack of contact when John and Abigail were in Europe.
* ConflictingLoyalty: Some members of Congress still feel loyalty towards the king, though grieved by him.
* ContrivedCoincidence: More like remarkable coincidence, Adams and Jefferson [[TruthInTelevision did]] die the same day and exactly 50 years after the The Declaration of Independence was signed.
%%* CoolOldGuy: Dr. Benjamin Franklin, [[TruthInTelevision natch.]]
* CourtroomAntics: John Adams when defending the British Soldiers after the Boston Massacre.
* CultureClash: Funnily enough not as strongly between enemies US and UK. John and Abigail Adams seem more baffled by the land of their allies, France.
%%* DaddysGirl: Nabby.
%%* DeadlyDecadentCourt: ''Vive la France'', baby.
* DeadpanSnarker: George Washington certainly had his moments. And in general this was sort of Ben Franklin's thing.
%%* TheDutifulSon: John Quincy.
* EccentricMentor: Creator/BenjaminFranklin succeeds in Adams toning down his obnoxiousness... a little.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Adams is having trouble finding other delegates at the Continental Congress who share his desire for a complete split from England. Then he's introduced to George Washington, a hero of the French and Indian War who's attended the congress in his army uniform, and offers to round up a new regiment to defend against future attacks like Massachusetts has suffered. Adams is left speechless by the man's natural leadership skills.
* EternallyPearlyWhiteTeeth: A rare aversion. Every character's teeth get noticeably more hideous-looking the older they get. In fact, UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington is so tight-lipped, his teeth are never shown (he had false teeth).
* EveryoneHasStandards: Adams may not like the British, but he doesn't like mob violence either which is why he defends the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre since they were attacked by a mob and only defending themselves. Nor does he approve of the tarring and feathering of a tax collector who was just doing his job.
--> '''John Adams:''' Do you approve of brutal and illegal acts to enforce a political principle, Sam? Answer me that, can you!?
* FanDisservice: Creator/SarahPolley naked? Thank you. Covered in scratches? Jesus Christ...
* FishOutOfWater:
** To say that Adams doesn't fit in at the French court is an understatement.
** Adams' meeting with George III, in all its awkwardness, surely counts as an example. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n725zX3zIk0 Behold.]]
* FoolishSiblingResponsibleSibling: The subplot about Adams's sons Johnny and Charles, with the fun-loving, rakish Charles as the Foolish Sibling, and the serious, studious Johnny as the Responsible Sibling. Charles died of cirrhosis of the liver at 30; Johnny served as a diplomat in Europe and became President himself.
* FunnyForeigner: Played to the hilt by Franklin. The French stereotype of Americans is that they are all rustic backwoodsmen, so he goes about Paris as though he's been tailored, as Adams says, by a taxidermist.
* GeneralRipper: UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton. The enemy X is Revolutionary France.
* TheGoodChancellor: Adams to Washington during his time as vice-president.
* HappilyMarried: John and Abigail Adams. A stark contrast to the French court.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Omnipresent in this period piece work, with some of particular note:
** UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington appears throughout most of the series. True to form, his influence is felt even when he doesn't appear in the episode. Played by David Morse.
** UsefulNotes/JohnAdams: The main character.
** UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson is Adams' ally, best friend, rival, enemy, and best friend again.
** Interestingly enough, the show watches UsefulNotes/JohnQuincyAdams from a young, bookish little boy all the way to ascending to the presidency.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Several characters get hit with this, largely due to the series' ProtagonistCenteredMorality.
** John Hancock and Samuel Adams are depicted as inciting the tarring and feathering of a British customs official--with ''petroleum'' tar no less. In reality, both were just as opposed to mob violence as John Adams is shown to be.
** Alexander Hamilton. Here he doesn't get much screen time, but what little he does have makes him look like UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler mixed with UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck. In reality he was philosophically conservative, a militarist, and a big government fan, but he was also one of the most senior American revolutionaries. The main reason is that Hamilton and Adams loathed each other, and Hamilton was at his worst during the Adams Administration, being out of office yet trying to exercise power by manipulating Adams' cabinet while creating a permanent standing army. It's not that the show's portrayal is ''inaccurate'' so much as emphasizing this particular period of Hamilton's life paints him in a highly unfavorable light.
** Even Thomas Jefferson receives this in later episodes, which portray his support for the French Revolution as unreasonable fanaticism that constantly undermines Washington and Adams's diplomatic efforts.
* InterruptedIntimacy: Adams is the one who is embarrassed when he runs into Franklin while the latter nude, inside a bathtub and enjoying the company of Madame Helvétius. Subverted in that they are seemingly just playing chess.
** Well, at the moment they were just playing chess. Knowing both [[KavorkaMan Franklin]] and [[DirtyOldWoman Mme. Helvétius]], the chess was probably a ''prélude'' to something else.
* ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne: Adams' only response to a scathing newspaper article that hurls numerous physical insults at him:
-->'''Abigail''' (reading a newspaper): Before it is too late to retrieve our deranged affairs, the people must demand the immediate resignation of old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, toothless Adams.
-->'''John''' (shrugs and puffs his cigar): I'm not crippled.
* JerkassHasAPoint:
** The Crown Officials are quick to point out that taxes that the colonies complain again were passed to pay for The French and Indian War: in which British Soldiers protected the colonies from the French and Native Americans, and the colonies seems unwilling to pull their own weight as it were
** One of John Dickinson's concerns about seeking independence for the colonies is the possibility of Civil War. [[note]]84 years later, just such an occurrence would indeed happen.[[/note]]
* KavorkaMan: Creator/BenjaminFranklin is not what some would call traditionally attractive. Nevertheless he is very popular with the ladies.
* KneelBeforeZod: Played for laughs -- having been sent to England as the American ambassador right after the Revolution, Adams has to go through an elaborate kowtowing ritual to King George III (staring coldly from the other side of a large hall) in order to present his credentials. Neither person is particularly happy about it.
* LargeAndInCharge: Washington, whose leadership is certainly not hindered by his large presence. After being introduced to Washington by Franklin, Adams notes that the former is a natural leader. Franklin quips that he's bound to lead something by virtue of always being the tallest man in the room.
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: Mundane example when Vice-president Adams, to his surprise, is excluded by Washington from the government meetings and the day-to-day ruling of the country.
* TheMagnificent: Adams insists the President's dignity should have several honorary and bombastic titles or surnames, but Washington overrules him and sets it as "Mr. President and nothing more"
* NeverLiveItDown: Invoked--outgoing president Adams is concerned that he will only be remembered for the Alien and Sedition Acts.
* NiceGuy: King George III is portrayed by revolutionary propaganda as a tyrant, but when John finally meets him in person, he's one of the most agreeable and well-spoken people John ends up meeting.
* OmnidisciplinaryScientist: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to a certain degree.
* PairTheSmartOnes: Why John and Abigail have such a good marriage.
* PimpedOutDress: Abigail wore one of these during a trip to France.
%%* PrettyBoy: Edward Rutledge, most definitely.
%%* TheQuietOne: UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson. TruthInTelevision, natch, and lampshaded by Adams.
* RageBreakingPoint: The Crown placing Massachusetts under Martial Law is the catalyst for the American Independence in general and what motivates Adams to be a full-fledged revolutionary.
%%* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The Boston Militia.
%%* RedOniBlueOni: John Adams is Red to Thomas Jefferson's Blue. Also, UsefulNotes/AlexanderHamilton is the Red to Jefferson's Blue.
* ReunionKiss: Actually reunion ''sex'' upon Abigail's arrival in France. Those two ''really'' missed each other.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: The ([[ArtisticLicenseHistory historically inaccurate]]) Boston mob's use of petroleum tar/bitumen instead of pine tar ''really'' ramps up the savagery of the event.
* SheCleansUpNicely: John Adams is visibly impressed when his wife puts on a nice dress at Versailles. Apparently TruthInTelevision.
* ShoutOut: Several to Theatre/SeventeenSeventySix
** In the final episode of the series, Adams is pacing nervously and Abigail says to him, "For God's sake, John, sit down". Her words are identical to the repeated line from "Sit Down, John", the opening number.
** When John sees Trunbull's painting, he scathingly remarks that he "is no Rubens." Reminiscent of the play when he tells Franklin that the man painting his portrait "is no Botticelli."
* ShownTheirWork: Far more accurate than most works about UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution. It's based on a legitimate work of history.
%%* SmallNameBigEgo: Ambassador Genêt
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Combined with a fair amount of {{Squick}} for Adams (and hilarity for us), when Adams heedlessly barges into Franklin's quarters at the American Mission in Paris...only to find Franklin playing chess in a bathtub with Madame Helvétius.
* SouthernGentleman: A lot of the Southern delegates--including Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson--are also portrayed this way. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina stands out though. When he privately informs Adams that his colony--pardon--''state'' is willing to vote for independence he says that one of the reasons the southern delegates delayed for so long is that they are used to a more "courtly forum".
* TheStarscream:
** Basically, Adams' entire cabinet as President. Holdovers from Washington's Administration, they treat their boss with thinly veiled contempt and effectively answer to Alexander Hamilton. Eventually Adams grows tired of their scheming and fires two of them, Timothy Pickering and James [=McHenry=], with undisguised relish...though it destroys any remaining loyalty Hamilton and the Federalists hold towards him.
** UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson himself while serving as Adams's Vice-President. His term as VP was spent mostly stoking anti-Adams sentiment in the country by financing opposition newspapers. The election of 1800 was the culmination of Jefferson's work, as he emerged victorious. Adams rightly considered Jefferson's undermining of his presidency, and Jefferson's subsequent campaign against him, as a serious betrayal, and led to Adams refusing to speak to his erstwhile friend for more than a decade.
* StrangeBedfellows: France of the Ancien Régime and the Rebellious States.
* StunnedSilence: The delegates of the Second Continental Congress after they pass the Lee Resolution, making the United States an independent nation, July 2, 1776.
* TalkToTheHand: Rutledge casually waves the back of his hand at an angry Adams and his supporters during the debate over independence.
* TarAndFeathers: Adams witnesses a British tax collector being tarred and feathered by an angry Boston mob. Can serve as a TearJerker and horrific for some, conflicting emotions and all. Sure, the mob was angry over a rightly felt injustice, but to see a man screaming in agony for only trying to do his job is enough to make anyone feel for the unbearable pain he must have gone through. (But see ArtisticLicenseHistory above; the "tar" used was not actually asphalt.)
* TearsOfJoy: Adams awakens after a serious illness to the news that the British have surrendered at Yorktown. After several moment of digesting the information he breaks down in tears and kisses the messengers hand over and over.
* VicePresidentWho: Adams is chagrined when President Washington excludes him from Cabinet meetings. He later chafes at the uselessness of his office.
** His annoyance at the uselessness of the office is actually one of the things that resulted in changing the nature of the Vice Presidency. As originally envisioned (and indeed, what happens to Adams), the Vice President was actually second place in the Presidential election. In other words, the guy who ran for the Presidency and lost to the victor. This was rectified relatively quickly, and the Vice President became the running mate to the President that is much more familiar in modern times.
* WarIsHell: The first time Adams actually sees the army he created, it's suffering from cold, hunger, and smallpox. The naval battle he takes part in is a grisly affair, as well, during which he's forced to witness an amputation.
* WellDoneSonGuy: Charles Adams gets this treatment in the series; [[DisappearedDad with his father being largely absent during his childhood and teenage years]], Charles becomes resentful, neglects his own wife and children and devolves into alcoholism and self-destructive behaviour before dying an early death. [[http://hnn.us/articles/56155.html Not quite how history really played out]], and more likely done to invoke RuleOfDrama.
* WhatTheHellHero: Invoked by John Adams to Sam Adams following the TarAndFeathers scene.
* WithFriendsLikeThese: Adams as President does not get along with his fellow Federalists any more than the Republicans.
%%* [[ManBehindTheMan Woman Behind The Man]]: Abigail, so very much.