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And the Emmy Goes to…

Posted on September 19, 2019

What do primetime television shows have to do with the work we do? More than you might think!

We’re gearing up for this Sunday’s Emmys by looking at how some of the nominated shows deal with issues we’ve reported about.

Today’s Watchblog explores.


In the thriller Bodyguard, viewers are kept on the edge of their seats as Sergeant David Budd—a specialist protection officer with London's Metropolitan Police—tries to protect the British Home Secretary from threats and physical harm.

Similarly, Secret Service agents are tasked with protecting the President, Vice President, and the White House. After an intruder jumped the fence and entered the White House in 2014, an independent panel made 19 recommendations to the Secret Service to help address issues with training, leadership, and perimeter security.

We recently reviewed the Secret Service’s progress in implementing these recommendations and found that it has more work to do. For example, the panel recommended that certain Secret Service agents train for 25% of their work time, but these agents trained for 6% or less of their work hours in FY 2018.

Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black provides an intimate look at the day-to-day ups and downs of a fictional group of inmates at a women’s federal prison. We recently reviewed a Department of Education pilot program that would allow inmates to be eligible for Pell grants (which provide financial aid to low-income students).

We found that the department should evaluate this pilot and report on the results—which could help decide the future of Pell grants for students in prison.

Photos Showing Incarcerated Students in Classrooms at Correctional Facilities


When Ozark’s lead character, Marty Byrde, gets himself into hot water in a money laundering scheme gone bad, he and his family move to Osage Beach, Missouri—a town upriver from Bagnell Dam.

Dams like Bagnell are overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. To help FERC understand the risks at individual dams, engineers inspect the structures and review engineering studies of dam performance to analyze safety.

However, we found that a lack of standard language and procedures for recording inspection results limits FERC's ability to identify safety risks at dams.

Graphic Showing a Dam and Related Key Structures

Russian Doll

Russian Doll follows Nadia as she tries to escape a time loop that restarts at the same moment during her birthday party. Each time she wakes up (to the infectious Harry Nilsson tune,“gotta get up, gotta out, gotta get home before the morning comes…”), she tries to remember what happened in previous loops so she can break the cycle.

We found that if Nadia had taken memory supplements to help, she may not have gotten what she expected. We tested 3 memory supplements and found that 2 of them didn’t contain the main ingredient stated on the label. We sent our results to the Food and Drug Administration for review and possible investigation.

A Photo of Pills and a Pill Bottle

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