'The Plot Against America' Is About if Charles Lindbergh Beat FDR for President

Shannon Raphael - Author

Apr. 16 2020, Updated 11:42 a.m. ET

Source: HBO

While people are practicing social distancing and confining themselves to their homes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many are binge-watching their favorite shows and begging for new ones to come out. Those who have already absorbed the contents of their "My List" pages on Netflix, Prime, and Hulu are in luck: an HBO miniseries is dropping on March 16. 

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The Plot Against America will surely become a must-watch and obsession, and the show centers around several key figures from history: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and aviator Charles Lindbergh. The cast is also star-studded, with Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, and John Turturro in leading roles. 

But, the plot is far more complicated than a historical rendering, and the story will be haunting for some, while too parallel to the realities of the world for others. 

Source: HBO
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Is The Plot Against America on HBO based on a true story? The miniseries is based on a successful book of the same name by Philip Roth, but many are wondering how much of it is based on history. 

Read on to find out what the series is about, and to learn how much of it was based on reality. 

Is 'The Plot Against America' on HBO based on a true story?

The focus of the series is an alternate history and it centers around the United States' presidential election of 1940. As many will recall, FDR won an unprecedented third term in 1940, while the Allies were embroiled in World War II against the Nazis and the other Axis' powers (the U.S. entered the war in 1941). The election was an especially pivotal one, as the country was polarized as to whether or not war was a solution.

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In reality, FDR ran against Wendell Willkie, while The Plot Against America pits the incumbent president against Charles Lindbergh. 

Lindbergh did not ever run for president against FDR, but the show uses the aviator as part of the alternate universe because he had been associated with anti-semitism. In the miniseries, Lindbergh wins the presidency in 1940 over FDR because citizens assume that he will keep them out of World War II. 

Source: HBO
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One central focus of the show is that Lindbergh's anti-semitism shifts the attitudes of United States citizens, and the country becomes similar to that of Nazi Germany. 

In this alternate world, Jewish citizens become scapegoats for the country's issues. On the show, a working class New Jersey family, including parents Herman and Bess Levin (Morgan Spector and Zoe Kazan), and their son Sandy (Caleb Malis) slowly realize, much to their fears, that life will never be the same for them. 

The Levins then decide to flee to escape persecution, but the borders are closed. Instead of joining WWII, the United States has isolated itself and prevented people from coming in or going out. 

Though Lindbergh was never elected president, the pilot had made several anti-semitic and xenophobic comments throughout his career. It was also suggested that he was in favor of the Nazi cause, and he believed in eugenics and nativism. He made several speeches in opposition to WWII in the '30s as well.

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The Plot Against America creator David Simon explained that he moved forward with the show in 2020 (despite the novel hitting shelves in 2004) because his feelings of the current political environment. 

"It’s a story of an American dystopia," he told Variety in February of 2020.

Where can you watch 'The Plot Against America'?

The Plot Against America, which comes from the same executive producers as the hit series, The Wire, is a six episode miniseries that will make its debut on March 16. The show airs at 9 p.m., and episodes will be available to stream on HBO Go the following day.  

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