Are Felicity Walker, Caroline Bennet and Althea Abdi Based on Real Politicians?

Image Credit: Linda Kallerus/Max

The race for the presidency of the United States begins with the first episode of HBO Max’s ‘The Girls on the Bus.’ We follow the story from the perspective of four journalists, all of them bringing a different ideology and point of view to the audience as they follow a Democratic hopeful’s campaign. Several politicians become central to the story, with all of them harboring the dream of being the one who gets to fight for the most important job in the country. Just like the journalists following them around, these politicians also offer different points of view with varied ideologies, giving the audience someone to root for. The audience will notice some similarities between the politicians in the TV series and the ones in real life. Who are these characters based on?

Felicity, Caroline, and Althea Represent Politicians on a Wide Range of Spectrum

Just like the journalists in ‘The Girls on the Bus,’ the politicians are also imaginary characters and are not particularly based on any real-life politicians. In concocting these characters, the creators of the show intended to reflect the reality of American politics and looked towards some very famous figures and their journeys to give a more authentic and relatable background to the characters.

The most prominent politician in the show is Felicity Walker, played by Hettienne Park. Walker is presented as the Asian-American Hillary Clinton and is tagged as the first woman who comes oh so close to winning the presidential race. Like many people in the country, journalist Sadie McCarthy is also in awe of Walker and puts her heart and soul into wishing for her to win, but when Walker loses, Sadie is so heartbroken that she starts crying, an act entirely unfitting of her profession.

Sadie’s reaction to Walker’s loss is similar to Clinton’s loss in the 2016 Presidential elections in which she lost to Donald Trump. Many of her followers were seen shedding tears when the news of her losing the race came out. For a lot of them, the loss was highly unexpected, and this is exactly what Sadie goes through when Walker loses her chance to become the President of the United States. Unlike Clinton, Walker decides to give it another go when the opportunity presents itself to her again.

Julie Plec, the co-creator of ‘The Girls on the Bus,’ likened the Presidential elections to reality shows where the politicians have to present their best foot forward to charm the audience into voting for them. To represent a variety of contestants, the writers didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Before Walker joins the fray, Caroline Bennet is considered a frontrunner, and it is her campaign that the girls follow. However, Bennet faces a setback when she becomes embroiled in a sex scandal after some details about her sex activities come to light.

The show’s writers took a page from the stories of real-life politicians who have also found themselves in the midst of such controversies and faced the consequences. In 2019, Democratic congresswoman Katie Hill resigned after details about her sex life came to light, along with her nude photos leaked to the press. Hill, who is openly bisexual, was revealed to have been engaged in an affair with a female campaign staffer, along with her husband. In 2023, another Democrat, Susanna Gibson’s campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates was upended after the videos of her and her husband engaging in sex were posted on an adult website. However, Gibson refused to keel over and go down without a fight, much like Bennet does in the show.

Another important horse in the race is Althea Abdi. A young politician who has the public’s love and support, Abdi is a socialist and quite popular with the young crowd. In some ways, her character reminds one of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young politician known for her democratic socialist leanings and who also enjoys a lot of popularity with the younger generation. She has been vocal about her policies and remains unintimidated by any criticism or unfavorable words that come her way. Abdi’s character in the show is structured around AOC, though there are some marked differences between them. Her character allows the show to explore the socialist side of politics, adding a different flavor to the story and making it even more interesting.

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