Surge Documentary Highlights Women Taking Over Congress



Sep. 8 2020, Published 7:13 p.m. ET

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Thanks to the after effects of the 2016 Presidential election, women are inviting themselves to the table when it comes to seats in Congress and are determined to make a change.

Surge is a feature documentary following the journey of three first-time female candidates who stepped up in their districts to run for congress. Their journeys show their desire to flip their red Republican districts to blue Democratic ones in Illinois, Texas, and Indiana. This feature addresses stories and themes that are timely for our current political state as we gear up for the upcoming 2020 Presidential election.

It’s not only a story about women who broke barriers in Congress, but it’s the story of all the people who supported them in making long term changes for their communities.


Women Who Address The Issues Head-on

Jana Lynne Sanchez from Dallas, Texas felt the effects of the election and couldn’t leave this as her reality. “I didn’t sleep on November 8th, but I sure as hell woke up on November 9th,” she said. She felt like she had to do something and that she could do something to somehow fix what happened to her country. Throughout her journey, Sanchez battles with running in a district that no one believes can have a Democrat win. In Texas, the issues she hits head-on are immigration, guns, and healthcare.

Lauren Underwood is the youngest Black woman to ever be elected into Congress at 31 years old. She is originally from Naperville, Illinois, and is also a Registered Nurse. Underwood grew tired of seeing older white males as representatives for the districts in her state.

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“We are on the verge of a generational shift,” said Underwood. “So many of our congressional leaders are 65 plus. I’m 31, that’s great! It also helps us run a race authentically,” she says.

“We are on the verge of a generational shift. So many of our congressional leaders are 65 plus. I’m 31,” Lauren Underwood.

Watson’s main goal in running for congress was to pave a better future for her daughter and provide possible opportunities for women to step up. In the film, Watson battles the obstacles of tighter voter identification requirements for low income and non-driver voters in addition to getting people to still get out and vote.

Watson addresses that people aren’t contesting during races and this becomes the biggest problem when having the same people up for re-election in many districts. During her time running, her opponent Trey Hollingsworth (R) pushes her buttons through ads and speeches calling Watson “Liberal Liz.” For Watson, some of the main issues she addresses through her campaign are workers’ rights, income inequality, and Medicare for all.

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Debunking The Biases In Congress 

When it comes to women running for anything in politics there are many glaring biases. Sanchez expressed how surprised and grateful she was to have so many women candidates support her despite being one of 53 women running in Texas for congress. In her experience, Watson says that stating the obvious of being a woman running for the district was a double-edged sword. She explained the frustration of being a labor candidate and how talking about herself as a woman would result in losing votes.

For the candidates, winning wasn’t the main end goal in their journeys, it was more about how women can create a place in the narrative of change. Former Texas state Senator Wendy Davis brings this message home towards the end of the film.

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“The fact that we had women who ran and didn’t succeed, so many of whom who got incredibly close to winning their races, speaks volumes to where we are headed,” said Davis.

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Will This Be A Moment Or A Movement Of Change?

Surge is a moving documentary that shows how great perseverance can cause a ripple effect in the fabric of politics in many districts. It challenges viewers to ask themselves how much they are willing to do to make a change and what part do they play in the greater narrative.

Surge is a moving documentary that shows how great perseverance can cause a ripple effect in the fabric of politics in many districts. It challenges viewers to ask themselves how much they are willing to do to make a change and what part do they play in the greater narrative.

The biggest question that journalist Rebecca Traister raises at the end is whether this a movement or moment in history.

“When those of us who want it to be a movement, with those of us who are invested in seeing long term change are putting energy, thought, fear, into this work, we want to know that our efforts can lead to change,” said Traister. “But we are the ones that are fundamentally responsible for the answer.”

Surge premieres tonight at 9pm on EST on Showtime’s new channel SHO x BET and then will be available on VOD platforms starting October 21st.

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By: Panyin Conduah

Panyin Conduah is Multimedia Journalist and Filmmaker based in New York City. Both her writing and documentaries cover stories that deal with social issues in communities. She has written for local newspapers The Westside Spirit, Our Town and digitally for and When she’s not busy se enjoys finding new adventures around the city and painting. Follow her on Twitter @panyin110.

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