The Trump Show review: Thoroughly entertaining insight into the president’s political horror show

Sean O'Grady
·3-min read
Donald Trump with vice president Mike Pence and Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, in episode 1 of ‘The Trump Show’ (Getty)
Donald Trump with vice president Mike Pence and Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, in episode 1 of ‘The Trump Show’ (Getty)

Perhaps the nightmare of the Trump years will soon be brought to a disputed, thoroughly litigated and traumatic denouement. If so, then we will be seeing a good deal more documentaries such as The Trump Show, endless loops of Donald Trump’s greatest “hits”, the ultimate political horror compilation album. If it was a sketch on the newly revived Spitting Image, it would be an ad for “Now That’s What I Call Hatred!”, featuring familiar chart toppers such as “Fake News”, “Alternative Facts”, “On Both Sides”, covers from The Wall, “China Crisis”, “Rocket Man” and the (sadly) unforgettable “Genius”.

Like pop hits, some are well worthy of another spin. Such as the short-even-by-Trump-White-House-standards tenure of Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci as director of communications (10 days). I’d forgotten the melodic majesty of the foul-mouthed phone call to a journalist that got him fired. Referring to the feud between the establishment chief of staff Reince Prebus and the radical disruptive chief adviser Steve Bannon, the lyrics went: “Reince is a f***ing paranoid schizophrenic, paranoiac… I’m not Steve Bannon. I’m not trying to suck my own cock. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f***ing strength of the president.” To be fair, Scaramucci, who at least has some charm about him, refers to himself as “an ostentatious, nouveau-riche prick”. If only Trump had a tenth of that self-awareness.

Taken in that spirit, the first of the three-part The Trump Show (BBC Two) is thoroughly entertaining, blending cringingly embarrassing clips and tweets from the first 18 months of the Trump administration and adding plenty of fresh detail and insights, plus some choice contemporary rap and grime embellishments. I had not previously noticed, for example, this story told by former adviser (and ex-Apprentice contestant) Omarosa Manigault Newman about the day of Trump’s inauguration: “He was always selling. Even up until the moment we went into the White House he was selling, selling. While we were preparing for the inauguration, I went into his office. I popped in to brief him and he says, ‘You know, my book is number one’, ‘You know, it’s the best business book ever’. That’s Donald Trump. So he starts off on this riff about how great The Art of the Deal is, and I’m trying to figure out where this story is going and he says, ‘You know I’m thinking... I’m thinking about taking my oath of office on The Art of the Deal’,” – that is rather than the Holy Bible that sufficed for most of his predecessors. The odd thing is that, even at this late stage of his presidency, literally Trump-on-steroids, the highest peaks of his superiority complex can still make you dizzy. Next week, we’re promised Stormy Daniels’s reflections on Trump’s struggle against impeachment and his funny toadstool-shaped todger.

Michael Wolff, the journalist who Trump casually invited to witness the first months of chaos, puts the point of the last four years of Trumpism – so far as there is one – succinctly: “You almost have an experiment. What happens if a person wholly unaware of the history of this job, the responsibility of this job, as though he were dropped from Mars into this job? That’s what you have in Donald Trump.” Or “had” in Donald Trump, as you may well hope that the great populist experiment has just about run its spectacular course.

‘The Trump Show’ continues next Thursday at 9pm on BBC Two