The WORST episodes of The Circus

Every episode of The Circus ever, ranked from worst to best by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The worst episodes of The Circus!

This documentary series pulls back the curtain on the 2016 presidential race, revealing the intense, inspiring and infuriating stories behind the headlines. Key characters and events from the individual campaigns are presented in real time, as they are happening. Produced in cooperation with Bloomberg Politics, THE CIRCUS is a non-partisan, never-before-attempted take on what promises to be one of the most fascinating and consequential elections in modern history.

Last Updated: 2/13/2024Network: ShowtimeStatus: Ended
62 votes

#1 - Veepstakes

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired 7/17/2016

No president is complete without a veep. As Trump auditions Chris Christie, Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich and Clinton considers Tim Kaine, can the candidates find the right-hand man for the job who will make, not break, their campaign?

Watch Now:Apple TV
Big F***ing Deal
22 votes

#2 - Big F***ing Deal

Season 6 - Episode 15 - Aired 10/31/2021

The Circus is on Capitol Hill as President Biden tries to realize his legacy-defining agenda. As the 11th hour negotiations rapidly unfold, and protestors take to the streets, two powerful Senators square off with progressive Democrats as all sides try to negotiate a historic, multi-trillion dollar legislative victory for the White House. Hosts John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, Alex Wagner and Jennifer Palmieri speak with both the administration and lawmakers at the center of the critical battle.

Watch Now:Apple TV
The Crucible
21 votes

#3 - The Crucible

Season 8 - Episode 9 - Aired 10/22/2023

The Circus examines President Biden's high profile wartime trip to Israel, a nation reeling in the wake of the terrorist attack by Hamas. Meanwhile, House Republicans struggle to elect a new speaker, two weeks after ousting Kevin McCarthy. John Heilemann, Jennifer Palmieri, Mark McKinnon and guest host Errin Haines track the dramatic developments throughout the week, speaking with Vice President Kamala Harris and Ron Klain, President Biden’s former chief of staff.

Keystone Chaos
32 votes

#4 - Keystone Chaos

Season 7 - Episode 7 - Aired 4/17/2022

The Circus is on the ground in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania to cover one of the most consequential Senate races in the nation. John Heilemann, Alex Wagner, Mark McKinnon and Jennifer Palmieri report on the heated competition as former president Donald Trump weighs in with a surprise endorsement. Republican and Democratic candidates speak with The Circus about the final, frantic weeks of the primary.

On Wisconsin
29 votes

#5 - On Wisconsin

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired 4/3/2016

Ahead of a Wisconsin showdown the candidates crisscross the state in pursuit of competing agendas. Can Kasich, Cruz or Sanders secure their position as spoilers - or will Clinton and Trump finally be crowned their party's Big Cheese?

Watch Now:Apple TV
Circus Recap
11 votes

#6 - Circus Recap

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired 4/10/2016

From the early primary battles to the Super Tuesday showdown and beyond, pull back the curtain on the 2016 presidential race with Mark Halperin, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon - and catch up on the electrifying first twelve weeks.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Kevin's House
22 votes

#7 - Kevin's House

Season 8 - Episode 3 - Aired 3/12/2023

The Circus heads to Capitol Hill to cover the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives. John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, and Jennifer Palmieri follow two freshman members of Congress, Republican Mike Lawler of New York and Democrat Maxwell Frost of Florida, as they navigate a week dominated by Tucker Carlson's coverage of January 6th, hearings on the Biden Administration, and a fight that threatens to tip America over a fiscal cliff.

It’s All Happening
20 votes

#8 - It’s All Happening

Season 6 - Episode 11 - Aired 10/3/2021

The Circus heads to Capitol Hill for the fierce battle over President Biden's legacy-defining agenda. With Democrats at odds over massive infrastructure and social spending bills, John Heilemann goes behind the scenes with the leader of the House moderates, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, while Alex Wagner speaks with the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Neither side is backing down in the fight over how to achieve President Biden's transformative agenda.

Watch Now:Apple TV
The Broken Place
25 votes

#9 - The Broken Place

Season 6 - Episode 16 - Aired 11/7/2021

The Circus examines the state of Biden’s presidency one year in. Two critical races for governor – a loss in Virginia and a razor-thin win in New Jersey – send shockwaves through the White House and Democratic party as they look ahead to midterms in a year. Jennifer Palmieri speaks with Governor Phil Murphy moments after surviving re-election, while Alex Wagner speaks with Rep. Jim Clyburn about what Biden needs to do now to pass his agenda. John Heilemann talks with John Podesta and Mark McKinnon talks with Rep. Cheri Bustos.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Confidence Game
27 votes

#10 - Confidence Game

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 2/28/2016

With the field narrowed down to The Big Five, the campaigns spread their game across the country and play to their strengths - with eyes squarely focused on the all-important upcoming prize: Super Tuesday.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Virginia Is For…
17 votes

#11 - Virginia Is For…

Season 6 - Episode 14 - Aired 10/24/2021

The Circus heads to Virginia for the final sprint in a neck and neck gubernatorial race – a contest that’s seen as a bellwether for next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress will be on the line. Alex Wagner speaks with Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin just after a new poll shows a tied race. John Heilemann and Jennifer Palmieri catch up with former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe on the campaign trail as he seeks reelection. Meanwhile, Mark McKinnon breaks down Youngkin’s strategy with his campaign advisors.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Off to the Races
21 votes

#12 - Off to the Races

Season 8 - Episode 2 - Aired 3/5/2023

The Circus is on the ground in Florida, South Carolina, Maryland and New Hampshire to mark the unofficial kick-off of the Republican Party's presidential nominating contest. The week begins as a leading potential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, launches his book tour and ends with CPAC, the annual conservative gathering that’s friendly territory for former President Donald Trump, who’s already in the race. John Heilemann, Jennifer Palmieri, Mark McKinnon and guest host Tim Miller examine the fault lines already emerging in the party.

Fake News?
25 votes

#13 - Fake News?

Season 8 - Episode 4 - Aired 3/19/2023

The Circus examines the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News. John Heilemann speaks with legendary First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, Mark McKinnon with prominent journalists, and Jennifer Palmieri with Trump voters about the case.

Trump Show
45 votes

#14 - Trump Show

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired 7/24/2016

The political circus goes into overdrive as Trump is crowned the Republican nominee - and Melania, controversially, speaks! Capitalizing on his children to help humanize his image, can Trump plus Pence finally rally a unified party?

Watch Now:Apple TV
Points on the Board
24 votes

#15 - Points on the Board

Season 6 - Episode 8 - Aired 2/28/2021

The Circus keys in on the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. As Republicans scrutinize, the question remains: can centrists come together to pass the bill as the US surpasses 500,000 COVID-19 deaths? From the White House perspective, Jenn Palmieri sits with Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and John Heilemann interviews bill author Brian Deese and Domestic Policy Director Susan Rice. And exploring how the package is viewed among conservatives, Mark McKinnon speaks with Rep. Dan Crenshaw. Mid-season finale.

Watch Now:Apple TV
The Nuclear Option
24 votes

#16 - The Nuclear Option

Season 7 - Episode 4 - Aired 3/27/2022

As President Biden travels to Brussels for an emergency NATO summit, The Circus examines Russia’s threats of using nuclear weapons. Jennifer Palmieri speaks to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby about the U.S. response to Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling; John Heilemann games out war simulations with one of the world’s foremost experts on nuclear weapons, Zia Mian; and Alex Wagner assesses Putin’s motives with former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev.

From Russia with Love
33 votes

#17 - From Russia with Love

Season 1 - Episode 23 - Aired 10/23/2016

Amid claims of foreign intervention, international espionage and widespread hacking, Clinton faces what might turn out to be her toughest opponent to date: WikiLeaks, and the trove of highly sensitive, private emails it's made public.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Home and Abroad
35 votes

#18 - Home and Abroad

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 3/27/2016

Foreign policy comes to the fore as the political climate grows fiery in the wake of the attacks in Brussels. As Trump and Clinton prepare to square off, can either of them prove their presidential mettle in handling the heat?

Watch Now:Apple TV
On the Brink
34 votes

#19 - On the Brink

Season 7 - Episode 1 - Aired 3/6/2022

The world is on edge following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. John Heilemann reports from on the ground in neighboring Poland with U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski; Jennifer Palmieri is at the White House with Press Secretary Jen Psaki immediately following President Biden’s first State of the Union address; plus, Alex Wagner examines the escalating standoff between Presidents Biden and Putin and Mark McKinnon looks at the political tensions on Capitol Hill amidst the evolving crisis.

There Will Be Blood
26 votes

#20 - There Will Be Blood

Season 7 - Episode 6 - Aired 4/10/2022

As the President’s historic nominee for the Supreme Court is confirmed, The Circus examines Biden’s successes, failures and plunging poll numbers. John Heilemann, Alex Wagner, Mark McKinnon and Jennifer Palmieri dig into the dissatisfaction within the Democratic base and the party’s prospects for the midterms; Representatives Stephanie Murphy and Ted Lieu share their differing strategies for Democrats to keep control of Congress; and The Circus speaks with the White House team behind Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s momentous confirmation.

Across the Rubicon
39 votes

#21 - Across the Rubicon

Season 4 - Episode 10 - Aired 9/29/2019

The launch of the official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. As news roils the capital and the entire nation, the hosts track down Democratic congressional leaders, members of the House Intelligence Committee, and prominent Republicans in a momentous week for both sides of the political aisle.

Watch Now:Apple TV
The Big Mo
46 votes

#22 - The Big Mo

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 2/7/2016

Inside the Iowa fallout and who's got momentum leading into New Hampshire.

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Nobody Fucking Knows
43 votes

#23 - Nobody Fucking Knows

Season 1 - Episode 25 - Aired 11/6/2016

Clinton in Arizona? Trump in Washington? As different polls predict differing outcomes both campaigns make a case in far-fetched battlegrounds. In a race that's either up for grabs or already decided, hope, it seems, springs eternal.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Law and Disorder
31 votes

#24 - Law and Disorder

Season 5 - Episode 12 - Aired 9/6/2020

The Circus travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the site of a week of civil unrest after the shooting of Jacob Blake. President Trump attempts to redefine the struggle for racial justice into a political choice between Black and Blue lives with his visit. And kicking off his campaign travel, Joe Biden faces the challenge of satisfying all wings of the Democratic party while condemning looting & violence. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes joins Alex Wagner to speak on police reform and his states' response to protests.

Piercing the Bubble
19 votes

#25 - Piercing the Bubble

Season 8 - Episode 8 - Aired 10/15/2023

In the wake of the shocking terrorist attack in Israel, The Circus tracks the political fallout as Republican presidential hopefuls respond to the ongoing crisis. John Heilemann, Jennifer Palmieri, Mark McKinnon and guest host Tim Miller travel to Iowa, Washington, DC and New Hampshire to hear from GOP candidates about how they would lead America in an increasingly dangerous world.