Pursuit Of Political Power

Name: The Politician
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Year: 2019-

One of my all-time favourite screenwriters and directors, Ryan Murphy, gives us a fresh new Netflix series that doesn’t focus on horror or thriller. Even though I was hooked and watched episode after episode straight away, not everything worked. 

The Politician focuses mainly on Payton Hobart and his friends as they are driven in the fight to become senior class president for their school, Saint Sebastian. The opening scene delivers the Dean of Harvard asking Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), questions for his admission. From this scene onwards, the theme is sets starting to explore the authenticity of the one percent’s pursuit for political power. The question that sparks this is ‘when did you last cry?’, continuing in pushing if he cried because he felt moved or because that’s what everyone else does when watching It’s A Wonderful Life. It very interesting concept to concentrate on, ultimately seeing if goodness comes from good results the do. 

Payton is the adopted son of the billionaire Hobart family. Since a young age he has had the dream of becoming president of the United States. He has been obsessed with this goal, knowing every fact of every president trying to follow in their footsteps. The desire of becoming president has consumed Payton’s entire life, and ultimately convinced his friends of the predictability of his greatness. The season follows the next step in his plan: winning the role of senior class president.

His girlfriend Alice (Julia Schlaepfer), is convinced that she will become his first lady and his best friends James (Theo Germaine) and McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss) become his campaign managers. They are all brainwashed and focused on only one thing, getting Payton to his presidency. With the series commissioned for two seasons so far, this is only the beginning. 

A lot of twist and turns throughout the series sends us on an emotional rollercoaster including teen suicide, grief, loyalty and lies. Payton’s best friend and election opponent River (David Corenswet) kills himself – giving Payton a simple and easy win for the election. This all changes when River’s girlfriend, Astrid (Lucy Boynton) joins the election in his place. Desperate to win, Payton tries to get the sympathetic vote by choosing a cancer patient Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch), as vice president. But Infinity’s illness is not at all what it seems. 

Platt gives the character such depth and vulnerability, going from happy to heartbroken and crying within seconds. His relationship with his mother is truly beautiful. His mother (Gwyneth Paltrow) is portrayed as someone who would do anything for her son and loves him to the moon and back, but is completely terrified of his ambitions and motivations. 

Platt’s heart-breaking raw emotion is shown when exploring his relationship with River. After his suicide we see River as Payton hallucinates him, explaining the deepest connection between the two characters. River and Payton understood each other and River’s hallucination helps Payton get in touch with his feelings and ultimately feel more human. 

The series contains a few songs sung by Ben Platt. From his theatre background, Ben is known for singing the amazing soundtrack of Dear Evan Hansen. His range and emotion was shown perfectly in all the songs, giving you goose bumps as you feel every emotion. I was surprised, and slightly disappointed that Laura Dreyfuss didn’t have a number, considering she was also in Dear Evan Hansen. Maybe series two will give us more numbers to fall in love with.

The over the top dramatized scenes didn’t always work in my opinion. It did lose a sense of emotion within certain parts of the series. It did portray the craziness of Payton’s ambitions to become president – but felt a bit too forced at times.  

The final episode set up the excitement for season two. We already know what Payton’s next challenge will be, and I personally cannot wait for the whole team working together this time on one goal.

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