News & Politics

David Litt Gives Us a Preview of His Sitcom About Obama-Era DC

"We were all idiots."

Photograph by Ted Eytan.

David Litt wants you to know that his forthcoming DC-set TV show won’t be some clone of Veep. Or The West Wing. Or House of Cards.

After serving as a speechwriter for President Obama and writing the bestselling memoir Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years, Litt is now creating a sitcom pilot called Young Professionals, which—if it gets picked up as a full series—will be executive-produced by Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.

Forget the cynical depictions of backstabbing politicians—Litt is more interested in the life part of Washington’s work/life balance. A central character, who is based on Litt, lives in a group house much like the dilapidated Logan Circle building he occupied before his stint at the White House.

Litt recently took us on a walk past the large white-brick home, which he’s been thinking about a lot as he works on the show. The building itself has quite a history, having housed communists, priests, and prostitutes before Litt and five other ambitious twentysomethings moved in.

Stopping in front, Litt pointed to the top-floor corner window that had been his. Inside, he recalled, the house was in pretty rough shape, but the camaraderie was unbeatable. “We were all idiots,” he said affectionately. “Smart idiots—people who have principles and skills but are also a little incompetent.”

While he hasn’t yet settled on storylines, that youthful mix of ambition and ineptitude will be a core theme: “What’s different about DC is that people tend to be very grown-up in their professional lives but overgrown children in their personal lives. What I hadn’t seen on TV was that animating sense of purpose that is such a big part of being in Washington.”

Of course, the city is very different than it was in those optimistic Obama years. Will the show resonate in the Trump era? “Young people come to DC because they think this is a place where they can make a difference,” Litt says. “That hasn’t stopped.”

This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.