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Series / Alpha House

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From left to right: Andy, Gil John, Robert, Louis

Alpha House is a Prime Video original series created by Garry Trudeau.

It is a Sitcom about four Republican U.S. Senators sharing a townhouse in Washington, D.C.. Gil John Biggs (R-NC) (John Goodman) is a former college basketball coach who sees the Senate mainly as an easy paycheck and never-ending parade of perks; Robert Bettencourt (R-PA) (Clark Johnson) is a bigshot in the party establishment who concentrates on getting big campaign donations while under investigation by the Ethics Committee; the fastidious Louis Laffer (R-NV) (Matt Malloy) is a devout Mormon who is likely a closeted gay man, while Andy Guzman (R-FL) (Mark Consuelos) is a Marco Rubio Expy at first glance until we discover the size and extent of his libido. The show was released as a Web Original on Amazon Prime, with the first three episodes free. The show was Amazon's first foray into original programming, with it being the first of five 'pilots' that Amazon commissioned to series to debut online.

Surprisingly, the show is actually based on a real house in DC where politicians (Democrats in this case) live when Congress is in session. Unlike the house on the show, "Omega House" is much more run downnote  and the residents don't hang out because of their different schedules. It's even been burgled a few timesnote  Hilariously, though, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the most senior senators, really does sleep in the living room like Gil John does on the show.

On February 11, 2014, the series was renewed for a second season, and the entire second season became available on on October 24, 2014. The series was canceled after the second season.

This work contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Family: Louis and Louise Laffer are the parents of Lola, Lorna, and Lori.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Julie, having come out of the closet in the first season, shocks her befuddled boss again in the second season by announcing that she is pregnant by way of artificial insemination.
  • Altar the Speed: When Louis finds out that Julie is pregnant, he insists that she and her partner Katherine get married well in advance of the baby's birth. By his logic, an illegitimate child is a greater moral offense than a same-sex wedding.
  • Amicable Exes: Andy and his psychiatrist ex-wife are on good enough terms that he seeks her professional help to repair his relationship with Adriana.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Louis, whose vehement and awkward denunciations of homosexuality are likely an overreaction to his own secret orientation, which he won't acknowledge to himself, let alone anyone else.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The "what if your wife was raped and murdered" question is asked during Gil John's debate rehearsal. Gil John doesn't answer beyond crushing his soda, which upsets Maddie because she would like to know the answer. Later, while Gil John is complaining, he says he doesn't want to get upsetting questions like that during the real thing, because of course it renders him speechless with anger. After that, we see a number of affectionate moments between the two.
  • The Beard: Louis' wife Louise, though it isn't readily obvious to either of them, given their devout Mormon background.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Rosalyn and Robert in season 2.
  • Berserk Button: Gil John flies into an uncontrollable rage at the mention of a humiliating loss for his basketball team long ago.
  • The Cast Show Off: The characters attend a "Funniest Man in D.C." amateur stand-up competition. Of course Wanda Sykes is going to take the stage.
  • Casting Gag: Senator Stanchion, played by Janel Maloney, chairs a panel during which she repeatedly tells another senator played by Bradley Whitford to shut up in an ironic Shout-Out to The West Wing—Whitford played her boss, and their Servile Snarker / Girl Friday chemistry was a major feature of the show.
  • Cliffhanger: Season two ends with Bettencourt's recount up in the air and Louise deciding that she and Lola are going to live in the house again (which would evict the other senators).
  • Colon Cancer: A gaffer intentionally dropped a light while Andy was delivering a rebuttal to one of President Obama's Speeches, to make Andy look unflappable, because he was told to do it. He got fired by Andy's chief of staff, who didn't know it was staged, resulting in "Gaffergate." When asked on an interview whom it was, he says he can't say, but it goes high up in the campaign, and is revealed in his forthcoming book, A Thousand Watts in Your Face, Bitch: Gaffing the Truth: Why Things Got Like This. He even pronounces the colons, saying they're there so you know it's important. (See Nerves of Steel below.)
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Any time the Watt brothers are onscreen. Also the show opener, courtesy of Bill Murray as prison-bound Senator Vernon Smits.
  • Crocodile Tears: When Sen. Paul Mower (R-ID) dies in the season 1 finale, both Guzman and Armiston use the funeral to self-promote their respective agendas.
  • Dark Secret:
    • Andy doesn't know Spanish and is taking lessons in secret. His parents thought it would hold him back.
    • Louis confesses that he and a synchronized-swimming teammate in college drank coffee before competitions. Coffee is strictly forbidden by the Mormon church. (However, Louis gets drunk with Gil John in the first episode; observant Mormons are also supposed to abstain from alcohol.)
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Rachel Maddow realizes this and awkwardly breaks off with "...and I'm going to stop talking before I get myself into any more trouble" when talking to nervous brides Julie and Katie about how happy she is not be married to her partner.
  • Death Glare: Andy claims he can hear his own legs breaking whenever Benny looks at him.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Andy, who finds a girlfriend immediately after splitting up.
  • Fake Video Camera View: The videographer recording The First Republican Gay Marriage captures the lesbian couple in a moment of tenderness, and we see them in the view of the camera with the REC light.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Gil John's temper. He claims that being reminded of one particular basketball loss is a "trigger", which leads him to beat a soldier with a chair.
    • Andy's raging libido caused his first marriage to collapse, gives him major image problems, and leads Adriana to call off their engagement when she finds he's been sleeping with Marta.
  • Fan Disservice: Naked Gil John makes Adriana scream in terror.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Louis and his wife Louise, although Louis isn't above a Precision F-Strike.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Gil John, a Fatal Flaw of his.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Gil John starts feeling disillusioned with his political career, realizing that it's mostly his wife's ambition that's driving him. He sneaks off to his hometown to try and get his bearings only to realize that old racist attitudes he thought people had grown out of still exist in an insidious passive-aggressive form and that the average man on the street's idea of what the Republican Party stands for is nothing close to what drew him to politics in the first place. He retreats to a beach to fish and drink beer. A conversation with a rival campaign operative ends up leading him to find new resolve to try and be the kind of politician he originally aspired to be.
    • When his wife divorces him, Robert spends days sitting in the house doing nothing but listening to opera in his pajamas... as opposed to actually campaigning against his opponent, the popular Ed Randell. Although he gets shaken out of it, it's too late in the game for him to get a substantial lead and they're neck-and-neck on election day.
  • Hollywood Autism: Dilly, the (supposedly) High School-age poll numbers expert.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Benny, Adriana's Old Retainer, gives Andy a very ominous talk when they first begin dating, accurately seeing Andy as a selfish man who will inevitably cheat on her.
  • Kick the Dog: Senator Peg Stanchion's first act onscreen is to humiliate the inept but harmless Betty Mower (appointed to fill her late husband's seat) on the Senate floor. Gil John isn't amused.
  • Love Epiphany:
    • Rosalyn and Robert, after posing as a couple in order to one-up his ex-wife's new paramour, realize that they do, in fact, have feelings for one another.
    • Andy realizes his feelings for Adriana are genuine when his ex-wife points out that during their whole hour-long session, he hasn't mentioned the monetary / political benefits of their relationship once.
  • Malaproper: Gil John, mostly because he doesn't give a damn. As soon as someone tells him about zingers and RINOnote  issues, he's calling them "stinkers" and "hippo issues."
  • Meaningful Name: Gil John Biggs has the biggest personality, in addition to being the biggest in size. Louis Laffer is made to be a laughingstock in front of the public on numerous occasions. Peg Stanchion is as unyielding and steely as a metal bar. Laffer's aide James Whippy is easily pushed around; James becomes attracted to Laffer's daughter Lola, whose devout naïvete clashes with her sensual appeal, making her name semi-meaningful, since "Lolita" is a diminutive of Lola. The Watt brothers supply massive amounts of money, and therefore the power ("wattage") to GOP campaigns.
  • Manly Gay: Colonel Eugene Drake, to the extreme. He is a decorated war hero, having earned a Purple Heart and numerous other honors for his bravery in battle. Even his breakfast of choice is uber-masculine: steak and eggs, extra rare. And he is openly and proudly gay.
  • The Matchmaker: Robert Bettencourt makes a hobby of setting the staffers up with each other. It also appears that Chuck Schumer does the opposite, going around breaking people up.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe, something that is feared by the Senators. Some examples:
    • Louis' interview on The Colbert Report, which ends with a homoerotic wrestling match.
    • The video of Gil John attacking a soldier with a folding chair.note 
    • James accidentally uploading a photo of his own penis onto Louis' Twitter account.
  • Neat Freak: Louis. He subjects housekeeper candidates to several tests, or rather, it would be several if they ever made it past the first challenge of how to handle a red wine spill.
  • Nerves of Steel: An arc light blows and crashes to the ground right behind Andy while he's making his rebuttal to President Obama's speech. He doesn't even flinch. (The way he talks about it afterward suggests he had planned it.) The aftermath is "Gaffergate". See Colon Cancer and Scandalgate.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Inverted. The opening credits have, among other things, Laffer being cut into footage of Mitch McConnell, and Guzman being spliced into footage of Barack Obama speaking, and the characters appear or are talked about on several real-world shows, including many MSNBC programs, The Today Show, Kelly & Michael, and more.
    • Chuck Schumer has a cameo interacting with Bettencourt in an episode where President Obama appears via Stock Footage.
    • Grover Norquist and Anthony Weiner (D-NY) have cameos in the season finale. Norquist has a speaking role, where Weiner, maybe considering his recent troubles, stays silent. Norquist appears again in the second season to perform standup comedy at an event.
    • A photographer shooting Rep. Guzman for a piece in Vanity Fair appears to be modeled after Annie Leibovitz.
    • The Watt brothers, a pair of Nevada investors who Laffer tangles with in regards to a possible showgirl workers strike are painted very much in the style of the Koch brothers.
    • Season Two has actual politicians Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), and former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA). Non-politicians include political commentator Rachel Maddow and entertainer Penn Jillette.
  • No Party Given: Averted; all the main characters are Republicans. Word of God is this is because they have more interesting primary battles than Democrats.
  • Only Sane Man: When he takes a hit in the polls for applauding something President Obama said during the State of the Union address, Bettencourt decides that he'll portray himself as this trope for his next primary debate. Considering that his opponents turn out to be A) a restaurant owner who boasts about his ability to dodge income taxes, B) a PETA treasurer, C) the self-proclaimed reincarnation of James Buchanan (who debates in character), D) an alchemist, E) a "self-educated libertarian" who advocates repealing all laws, and F) a 9/11 truther, this is a pretty easy task for him.
  • Out with a Bang: In the episode where Sen. Mower dies, he's seen summoning one of his secretaries into his office. In the next scene, paramedics rush in and find him on the floor with his pants on backwards and his fly down.
  • Put on a Bus: A senator played by Bill Murray is put on the bus in the first minutes of the pilot, which drives the plot of the first couple episodes as Guzman moves in. The Bus Came Back in the closing credits of the season 1 finale, and the cold open of season 2.
  • Raised by Wolves: Asked of one of the interviewees by Louis.
  • Red Herring: At a club, Andy makes an acquaintance with a very attractive Spanish-speaking woman and invites her to the house, and strange noises are heard from his room after Adriana leaves. She bursts in to find them—studying Spanish because Andy's hired her as a tutor.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The basic premise of the senators' living conditions was taken from a number of actual Democratic congressmen who share a row house in D.C.: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Rep. George Miller (D-CA).
  • Royal Brat: Charlotte "Cee" Biggs, Gil John's daughter, flaunts her brattiness as the star of an in-universe reality show, Real Daughters of D.C. Prior to the reality show, she had been attempting to fund her "brand," though we never quite find out what her ostensible start-up company actually did.
  • Runaway Bride: Subverted. When Katherine and Julie find out that the small wedding they had intended has been turned into a major political event by the Republican National Committee, they flee the scene together, still wearing their wedding dresses.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When giving his speech at Sen. Mower's funeral service, Laffer reads out, "Pause for laughter", apparently expecting there to be raucous laughter at one of his remarks about the things the late senator rejected.
  • Scandal Gate:
    • The falling-light stunt bites Andy in the ass with "Gaffergate" because his chief of staff, having not known it was staged, fired the gaffer and he spilled the secret.
    • Senator Stanchion is trying to replace this with things ending in "-ghazi" for Benghazi.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Upon learning that he's tied with Senator Laffer on election day, Penn Jillette rips Nevada a new one for wanting to put a magician in office over someone who might have actual qualifications, says that he was only in it to bring libertarian issues into the conversation, and forfeits the election.
  • Self-Deprecating Humor: Chris Matthews' cameo is him making a hugely implausible segue to shill his new book while his guests awkwardly try to get back to the subject of Gil John's campaign vid.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Senator Rand Paul is this for Andy, who views him as a major potential rival in 2016. He even attempts to claim he made up Gaffergate.
  • Straight Gay: Julie Carrel, Katherine Sims, and Col. Eugene Drake.
  • Surveillance Drone: The Watt Brothers never meet anyone in person. They'll hold "Deep Throat" meetings in parking lots, or inside a limousine, but only by appearing using a video monitor and camera on a drone.
  • Transparent Closet: Louis, whose fussy mannerisms and extensive expertise in fashion and interior decorating, make it obvious to his colleagues and staffers that he is a closeted gay man. This point is reinforced in the second season when he develops a painfully obvious crush on Colonel Eugene Drake.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: In episode 8, when Louis is recruiting a new housekeeper.
  • Theme Naming: Laffer's entire family is made of people with names that produce the initials "LL": Louis himself, his wife Louise, and his daughter Lola.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sen. Rosalyn DuPeche (D-IL) and Louis. Later, Rosalyn and Robert, on their way to Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • The Voice: This trope is invoked in the first few episodes, as Gil John's wife (painted as the real brains behind Gil John's campaign) is only heard on speakerphone from his home state, however, in later episodes actress Julie White does appear in person.
  • Walk and Talk: Lampshaded and played with when one character tells another, "Walk and talk with me." They do... but then they only go about ten feet. Does that really count?