The Republic of Sarah is the strangest and most original show on The CW, on a network full of DC superheroes, teen detectives dealing with ghosts, vampires in high school, and teens trapped in dystopian futures. It's about what happens when a schoolteacher declares her town an independent country and secede from the United States to keep the state governor from wiping out the town to sell its rare minerals to a mining company. The next thing she knows, she and her friends have to figure out how to actually run the town as an independent country, keep the electricity, food, and economy going and fight off aggressive moves by the governor to cripple the town and force it back to the Union.
The Republic of Sarah was originally developed at CBS before it landed at The CW. It has that CW light drama veneer – a good-looking young cast, romantic teen subplot – to sugarcoat some of the headiest themes and topics you could possibly get in a show. Sarah and her friends have to learn how to actually govern, and the show becomes a weekly lesson in how government functions and countries are run. Civil disobedience and protest, Federalism, taxes, currency, land property laws, borders, and sovereignty are topics of the week for each episode. The characters also go through fairly serious emotional issues: single parenthood, abandonment, the pressures of staying in the closet, Sarah and her brother have to deal with their alcoholic mother's past as an abusive parent. The writing has surprisingly emotional honest without the glibness that afflicts too many CW shows.
The Republic of Sarah is really a sort of remake of the 1949 British comedy Passport to Pimlico from Ealing Studios. In that movie, a small district in London not far from the Houses of Parliament, chafing under the restrictions of post-war rationing, discovers a document that shows their neighbourhood is not part of England but the House of Burgundy. The residents declare independence from England and begin negotiations about their sovereignty. The British government retaliates by cutting off power, food, and resources, cordon off the district with barb wire while black marketeers flood in to sell foods and goods. Similar things happen in The Republic of Sarah, though in a slightly less satirical manner, though the layer of surreal absurdity is still present. The Republic of Sarah is just more earnest about it all. Its lowkey, lighthearted seriousness makes it the strangest show on TV right now.
The Republic of Sarah is a rare show in the genre about people forming new countries and trying to run them. There is a reason stories in that genre are rare – they're very hard to write and keep interesting.
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