‘Cap South’ is a sitcom about Congressional staffers, by a former Congressional staffer


A still from the pilot of ‘Cap South.’ (Youtube)

There are many shows written about D.C., but very few written for the people who live here — the ones who know, for instance, that Farragut Square doesn’t look like an office park and there is no Meridian Park metro. But with his new web series “Cap South,” filmmaker Rob Raffety is trying to change that: He is, after all, a former Hill staffer, and he still lives in Arlington.

“Cap South” follows the antics of fictional congresswoman Gracie Todd Englewright and her oddball staff as they traipse around Capitol Hill. There are weird constituent phone calls, visits to cupcake shops, overblown political ads — even a “new media journalist” who (ahem) “routinely goes days without bathing” and “enjoys Indian food and regret.”

Raffety and co. certainly have a lot of satirize-able material in establishment D.C., perhaps better known in recent days merely as “This Town.” And they do poke fun at the absurdities of politics, to occasionally hilarious effect. The plot of the pilot, for instance, revolves around a ridiculously named special interest group called “The Coalition for a Breezier Tomorrow,” and — when asked about a former congressman’s most prized piece of legislation — his chief of staff stutters, “right, the Area 51 memorial highway.”

But how comedic you find “Cap South” also probably has a lot to do with how far you work from the Hill. It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the Beltway (or even many people inside the Beltway?) guffawing over jokes about energy policy. And there are plenty of corny, indecipherable lines presumably intended as insidery banter.

“In Washington, there are two schedules: the staff schedule, and the schedule schedule,” one character intones into the camera in episode 2. “It don’t take a lick of sense to know when that good ol’ Chattanooga choo-choo is going to roll out of the station.”

So maybe Raffety is trying a little too hard. But regardless, it’s nice to watch a political sitcom that includes a few shots of D.C. outside the stylized opening sequence. And unlike say, “Veep” or “House of Cards,” locals can actually participate in “Cap South”: Raffety told Politico that viewers will be invited to play extras in the yet-to-be-filmed season finale, and he’s set up a fake phone number for Rep. Englewright’s office.

You can watch the pilot episode below; the remaining nine episodes, each three- to five-minutes long, will air twice a week on Youtube.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Cara Kelly · July 9, 2013