If you know me, then you’ll have heard my opinions about old, stuffy, conservative content. Nothing does more to hinder the spread of pro-American values than the bad aesthetics of the shows presenting them to the world. In general, the effect is to make these values seem like the domain of old people and otherwise boring people. Can you think of a more effective way to chase away young, self-respecting people who aren’t political nerds and actually want to be liked by their peers?
So most conservative organizations are doing a great job at exactly one thing: convincing young people that their ideas are boring, stale, old, and rigid. That’s a real problem when ideas like self-determination, personal liberty, moral behavior, and hard work are not only modern, they are actually the cornerstones of coolness. Despite this, coolness is hardly a conservative adjective and the reason is obvious: most conservatives are content with being the uncool outcasts. They find their meaning in being the know-it-alls on the sideline, part of an exclusive club for people that are too cool to, you know… actually be cool.
Needless to say, this is a presentation issue that even the few conservative organizations aware of it have failed to fully tackle. However, there are four shows out there right now which are bucking the trend, and I want to talk about what makes the design of each one so great! Disclaimer: I work on two of them, so sue me if that’s a problem.
Will & Amala LIVE
The Will & Amala LIVE podcast is a daily show from PragerU hosted by Will Witt and Amala Ekpunobi. In my opinion, this show is 100% the direction in which all conservative content should trend. Neither host takes themselves too seriously, which is a breath of fresh air in an arena jam-packed with wannabe suit-and-tie podcast politicians. Will and Amala focus on cultural topics when they are actually relevant, rather than the typical conservative show that catches on months behind the times. The show also has humor and live audience engagement, which I just do not see in the majority of other conservative shows.
I love that visually, the show is centered on the personalities, with a nice dark set and just a few pops of color. Backgrounds are simple and unobtrusive. When Will or Amala are on screen, they’re the focus. That’s how it should be. Nobody wants to see some fussy set in the background - we all know they don’t live in the podcast studio, so why bother pretending like there’s more to it? Complicated backgrounds are a waste of space - the lack thereof is a common theme in this list.
The aesthetic of the show is clean, modern, and a tad sporty. We’ve intentionally angled for punchy graphics, trending music, and leaned into the made-for-social media aesthetic. It’s a far cry from other hosts who seem to think that if they look like they are presenting from a private room in the library of Congress it will make them more appealing. It doesn’t. Again, the cool factor does more for audience buy-in than formality.
Poplitics, hosted by Alex Clark, is truly a unique case in the conservative media world. It’s utterly simple: One camera, one chick, one chair. It doesn’t really need anything more because it all works. Once again, as with Will & Amala LIVE, if you have a good host then the focus should be on them. There’s no denying that Alex Clark is a good host with vibrant energy who carries the show.
What makes it great is that the show never really takes a high-and-mighty approach to pop culture topics. That’s where most conservatives fail, by acting like pop culture is smut that's beneath them. Clark and her team are actually interested in genuinely engagement over pop culture topics from a conservative angle.
The styling of Poplitics reflects that genuine interest. Imagine someone took J-14 Magazine and spilled it all over Instagram. That’s Poplitics. It’s a bunch of insane collage celebrity photos, bubblegum pinks, and balloon fonts that coalesce into a distinctly feminine vibe. I’ll be honest, I doubt I could have ever come up with this look. It had to be the brain-child of pop culture connoisseurs.
Poplitics was also ahead of the game on several social media formats. The show was made specifically for Instagram at its inception, with graphics tailored to vertical and square formats. They use a wide range of frames, cards, overlays and lower third elements that make the show feel right in an atypical placement. Whereas most shows are made for YouTube first, then adapted to other platforms, Poplitics was made to be seen where the pop-culture cognoscenti live: Instagram and other mobile-first apps.
Stories of Us
Back to another PragerU show that I think has come a long way in its development: Stories of Us. Our CEO, Marissa Streit, recognized that while facts and information are great ammunition for promoting conservative ideas, what really changes minds is hearing other stories of change. That’s how Stories of Us was born, and now it’s one of PragerU’s top performers.
Once again, Stories of Us is all about the presenter. Like Poplitics, it’s one host, one chair. Like Will & Amala LIVE, the set is dark to keep focus on the host - in fact it’s almost completely blacked out. This was a big win for us because the original show featured an artificial set with a big built-out background and we even fiddled with different show themes. Ultimately, we realized that a simple dark set with a brightly-colored on-brand chair was enough. It would even facilitate additional marketing content that needed to be reformatted for social media. No funny set pieces sticking out of the edges.
Something I’ve really enjoyed is this show’s use of multiple camera angles. You see, I’ve noticed a strange trend in conservative content: we almost never show people from interesting angles. You will start noticing this now. With few exceptions, if a show is run by conservatives then the guests and hosts are shown from a medium height in basic straight-on or three-quarter angle shots. Even a profile shot is considered radical. Trust me, I know because I’ve gotten hard pushback on exactly that. You NEVER see a bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view. You never see distortion, foreshortening, or odd visual concepts. All the things that make every Quentin Tarantino film amazing and every Hollywood ad campaign attention-grabbing are missing from conservative camera work. In some perverted way, it’s like we’ve committed to taking some of the most interesting people or ideas and forcing them into a bland rectangular perspective. A lack of magical realism in the conservative media sphere is epidemic.
Stories of Us is a refreshing break in that trend. Not only do we film with 4 camera angles - but we often show 2 or more of them in a split screen at the same time. I think this is a fantastic deviation from the norm. In a subtle way it says that there are multiple sides to all stories, and that a single person can be seen in many different lights. More directly, it says to conservatives that we can be true to traditional values but still have an Avant Garde side. It tells young viewers that there is room for coolness in conservatism.
The Comments Section
This show is the newest addition to the world of conservative content on this list. The Comments Section is a daily roundup from The Daily Wire hosted by Brett Cooper. Like Poplitics, it appears to be a made-for-social media show. As with all of the shows on this list, it’s personality-centered. The shots are always focussed on Brett so that she can carry the show.
What I’m most excited about is how The Comments Section breaks the traditional “stuffy” conservative mold in its visual design. Let’s focus on the set: The color scheme is a vibrant combination of neon colors, obviously inspired by the Vaporwave art style - possibly the artist Magdiel Lopez. Brett even has one of his posters in the backdrop to the set. She also has her snowboard up on the wall, painted in a matching color scheme. All of these are only a few feet behind her on set, but they are pushed out of focus just enough to be recognizable without being distracting. The overall effect is a cohesive color scheme and feeling that the show is young, outside the box. I honestly think this show would catch the eye of young left-leaning people and draw them in. From a style standpoint It’s just actually cool.
Let’s recap: What do these shows all share that makes them superior to the vast majority of conservative content?
They all keep their sets simple, with just enough for character but nothing extra. They all lean away from the typical political nerd aesthetic toward more modern looks. They all focus on the personality and let them carry the show. They stay up to date on culture, rather than being all above it until they are last to the party. Finally, none of them are afraid to lean into their unique style rather than imitating what a conservative show is “supposed” to be. All the rest of conservative media is still playing that old game where every new show is just the last show with a different host in the chair. As long as shows like Will & Amala LIVE, Poplitics, Stories of Us, and The Comments Section are the exception in conservative content, the movement risks aging itself right out of relevance.