Several years before he became president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy played the role on television. The series, Servant of the People, is now seeing a surge in popularity as Zelenskyy defends his country in a war against Russia.
Sales of the show to broadcasters have risen dramatically in recent days, according to Eccho Rights, the company that distributes it internationally.
“While the real-world scenario facing Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people is far more grim and appalling than the comedy of the series, there are obvious parallels,” said Eccho Rights’ managing partner Nicola Söderlund.
“Servant of the People” was inspiration for Zelenskyy’s campaign
The comedy series starring Zelenskyy tells the story of a Ukrainian teacher who unexpectedly becomes president after his rant against government corruption goes viral.
The show, which was produced by Zelenskyy’s media company Kvartal 95, ran for three seasons from 2015. It also put the comedian on the map and set the stage for his political career: When he ran for president in 2019, Zelenskyy named his political party Servant of the People.
In recent days viewers have been resurfacing Servant of the People clips that now feel surreal. In one, the president gets a call from former German president Angela Merkel with an offer to join the EU, only to find out it was mistaken—she meant to phone Montenegro. Zelenskyy filed an application for his country to join the EU this week.
Which channels are airing “Servant of the People”?
Britain’s Channel 4 has secured the rights to Servant of the People and plans to air the show this Sunday, March 6.
MBC in the Middle East, ANT 1 in Greece and PRO TV in Romania have also bought the show, according to Eccho Rights, which is licensing all three seasons as well as a movie spinoff. The group has also reported deals with broadcasters in Bulgaria, Moldova, Estonia, France, Finland and Georgia.
US broadcasters haven’t yet announced plans to broadcast Servant of the People. Although the show used to air on Netflix, it isn’t currently available on the streaming platform, which didn’t immediately respond to a question from Quartz about whether it will bring it back. The first two seasons are available with English subtitles on YouTube.