North Texas Daily

‘The Politician’ is a fantastic candidate for your watchlist

‘The Politician’ is a fantastic candidate for your watchlist

‘The Politician’ is a fantastic candidate for your watchlist
October 03
21:25 2019

Contributing writer // Sean Riedel

It seems that every time we turn around there is a new series created by Ryan Murphy premiering on one platform or another.

This past week, it was a series called “The Politician,” starring Tony-winner Ben Platt and Zoey Deutch, along with Oscar-winners Jessica Lange and Gwenyth Paltrow, which follows a Santa Barbara high school presidential election. 

First of all, I think the believability of the series would be better if there were not a 25-year-old playing an 18-year-old. That being said, Platt does a fantastic job in the lead role and it’s something I can look past. 

The series follows Platt’s Payton Hobart, an aspiring politician running for school president against his friend River. Payton is ambitious, with the goal of eventually becoming the U.S. president, and has modeled his entire life around the early life of past presidents.

By his logic, recent presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were presidents of their high schools, so he needs to be. He also needs to go to Harvard, which has been the alma mater of  seven former presidents. 

Payton’s group of friends also happen to be his campaign staff, with each of them serving a role in getting him not only to the high school presidency, but all the way to the to the American presidency.

The series is definitely a satire that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either. Part comedy and part drama, the series is pretty silly overall, but entertaining to say the least. I don’t what I had come to expect from the same minds behind “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “Scream Queens,” but “The Politician” is funny, crazy, tear-jerkingly sad and has very timely satirical material.

As someone who has served as high school president, I found it to be entertaining while also sighing out of relief that none of this ever happened to me.

Despite being silly, the performers offer up some great performances, particularly Platt and Lange. 

Platt’s character is overall pretty likable, despite his irritating ways of expressing frustrations with the campaign. It’s comical at times just to watch a character treat the high school presidency as seriously as the American presidency. 

While Lange, who has previously worked with Murphy on five seasons of “AHS” and on “Feud: Bette and Joan,” doesn’t have a huge role, she effortlessly demands your attention every time she’s on the screen. She plays Dusty Jackson, the grandmother and caretaker of Deutch’s Infinity Jackson, a teen cancer patient who Payton chooses as his running mate.

Lange is fantastic here, despite her character seeming like more of a caricature. Deutch’s performance is good, but her character is also a little unrealistic as well, although this could be a trait resulting from her sheltered life with her grandmother.

Unfortunately, Paltrow’s talent seems wasted in this series. She plays Payton’s mom and has a decent amount of screen time and a somewhat interesting storyline of her own, but her dialogue and the depth of her character does not equal what I think she could have given to the show. 

There are a couple of newcomers whose performances were highlights of the show, and they are Rahne Jones and Theo Germaine, who portray Skye Layton and James Sullivan, respectively.

Skye is River’s running mate, while James is Payton’s best friend and campaign manager. Both are new to television but give intriguing performances and play central roles in making this series work, at least for me.

The eight episode first season is a little rocky. It has good episodes and then it has pretty weak ones. I would say there are three or four standout episodes, and the series improves over time.

The series opener is a pretty well done 62 minutes, providing a promising start for the series. It introduces the central characters and creates problems for them to face and gives viewers something to look forward to, as a good premier should. 

Another standout episode is the shortest of the series thus far, “The Voter,” which clocks in at just 26 minutes and is the fifth episode of the season. “The Voter” follows an average teen boy who doesn’t care about the election going on at his high school, but the two candidates suddenly seem to care a lot about him once the data shows he is an undecided potential voter.

The candidates and their campaign teams make effort after effort to win him over, much to his annoyance. It is an on-point episode that highlights the people who don’t feel represented by any candidate and the ways candidates can attempt to manipulate those people into thinking they are cared about. 

The season finale is the series best episode, featuring a time jump and a set-up for the second season that seems more promising than this debut outing. That is about as far as I’ll go in order to avoid spoilers.

So, if you are looking for a well-acted, stylish, crazy teen comedy-drama featuring storylines surrounding mental health, political aspirations, family drama and even an assassination attempt, go for this show. 

My rating: 3.5/5

 Featured ImageCourtesy Netflix

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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