Ryan Murphy, the creator of series’ “Glee”, “American Horror Story”, “Pose”, “American Crime Story”, “Feud”, “9-1-1”, “The New Normal”, “Scream Queens”, and “Nip/Tuck”, has gifted his devoted fanbase his newest series “The Politician”. Murphy’s newest series comes from his departure from primetime television to Netflix, where “The Politician” arrives as the first of Murphy’s newest series’ to come for the online streaming service.
The series revolves around high school senior Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) and his excessive eagerness to be President of the United States. He logistically plots every day with his best friends as they work to perfect and protect his reputation from high school student body president straight to the White House. Logistically, they need a more approachable avenue for his campaign and opts for Infinity Jackson, the squeaky-voiced believed-to-be-cancer patient. With that comes the unraveling of the student body of the fictional Saint Sebastian High School, in sunny Santa Barbara, California, in the vein of Wes Anderson’s fast-paced style and aesthetics.
Without a doubt, Ryan Murphy has simply perfected and balanced his writing style with his eclectic casts. From Broadway star Ben Platt to legendary actress Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow and Bette Midler, to the rising talents of Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, David Corenswet, Julia Schlaepfer, Laura Dreyfuss, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones, and Benjamin Barrett; Murphy’s characters spring to life.
Ben Platt as Payton Hobart, the eclectic, highly anxious, ambitious high school senior, shines as the lead role, particularly when he is at his most vulnerable with others. It’s through these scenes with family and friends that we see the brilliance of Ben Platt’s Payton Hobart, the genuine politician.
Payton Hobart’s character is a satire of puppet politicians, whose intentions were unclear, to begin with, and are used in a ploy for power control. His friends aren’t only his masters of logistical brainpower behind his campaign, but a balance of reason and strategy. There is more than a constant state of needing to upkeep Payton’s image, but an ingrained sense of loyalty that only the best of friends have for each other. He speaks volumes for the student body of Saint Sebastian High. He cares. He wants to enact change.
Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Georgina Hobart, Payton’s adoptive mother. At times, the writing can be a bit overwrought with Lifetime-esque dramatics, but nonetheless, the emotional delivery and chemistry that Paltrow and Platt share as on-screen mother/son duo outshine the over-exaggeration.
That’s one of the best parts of the series — the campiness of it all.
The relationship between Jessica Lange’s Dusty Jackson, the spitfire Southern sass of a grandmother to Zoey Deutch’s Infinity Jackson, appears to take inspiration from the true to life story of Gypsy Rose and her mother Rose Blanchard. The similarities of Murphy’s fictional characters and the Gypsy/Blanchard true-crime story are dramatized for entertainment's sake, yet relatively accurate in regard to a grandmother lying to the world and granddaughter about her health.
Without treading into spoiler territory, the series does have a significant time jump during its season finale. And at first, it is without explanation or catch up. Murphy expects his viewers to stay long enough to understand why, and you do just that without any tedious segments. It is decently paced, carefully fleshed out and engaging until the last minute when the screen cuts to black.
Sexuality also plays a vital role in “The Politician” and its mastery, in all its subtleness. Carefully constructed, no one's sexuality or sexual fluidity is questioned. The fluidity of sexuality within “The Politician” is probably its biggest feat, the expectation that their individual expressions and sexualities are just another part of themselves. There is no big ‘coming out’ and that in itself is refreshing. Despite the campy darkness and over-saturated eliteness of the Santa Barbara community has to offer to these preppy scholars, their individuality is normalized.
It’s an immediate cult classic, to the likes of 80s classic “Heathers,” from its costume and set design to its cast of likable and unlikable characters, it's quickly engrossing and at its core, repeatedly binge-able.