"The Runner-Up" (TV show) is a documentary series on the Esquire Network that provides an exclusive, all-access look at one of the most unique political campaigns of the 2014 mid-term elections — the improbable Congressional run of "American Idol" star Clay Aiken.

With exclusive access, the series embedded inside Aiken's campaign to represent North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District — from his candidacy decision through the shocking primary election (which ended in the death of Aiken's Democratic opponent), and his defeat in November 2014 to incumbent Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. Throughout, the documentary series shows Aiken, a gay Democrat and single father, working through strategy sessions with his team, prepping for debates and meeting with voters via town halls, bus tours and door-to-door canvassing.

The series spotlights what it takes to run an American campaign from the perspective of a candidate who is a newcomer to the political scene with few resources and little support. Throughout the campaign, Aiken struggles to convince voters — and America — to take him seriously as a political contender against those who would write him off as simply a reality TV star.

"The Runner-Up" is produced by Lightbox for Esquire Network. Academy Award-winner Simon Chinn ("Man on Wire," "Searching for Sugar Man"), Emmy Award-winner Jonathan Chinn ("30 Days," "American High")  and Mitchell Tanen serve as executive producers for Lightbox.


Network: Esquire
Genre: Reality
Runtime: 60 mins.
Premiere Date: April 7, 2015
Seasons: 1
Production Company: Lightbox

'The Runner-Up' Follows Clay Aiken's 2014 Bid for Congress — Premiering Tuesday, April 7, the unfiltered, all-access Esquire Network documentary series takes a look at one of the most unique political campaigns of the 2014 mid-term elections. Read more...

Got spoilers? What did you think of the last show?

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