‘The Politician’ cast hides a messy, over-the-top plot



Gwyneth Paltrowand Ben Platt are among the many stars assembled for the story of one boy’s political pursuits.

Brian Connors, Arts and Entertainment Editor

“The Politician” follows aspiring president of the United States, Payton Hobart, in his political conquests with each season set to document a different election. In the show’s freshman outing, Payton is running for student body president of Saint Sebastian High School.

Just like the career of an actual politician, the Netflix original is messy, and its eight-episode debut is all over the place. The show feels like it never really takes off, but it certainly does not spend much time on the ground. Its storylines are both uniquely absurd and generically bland, and its characters are interesting yet lack real substance.

The catalyst for finishing the dramedy was loyalty to its high-profile cast. In typical fashion, showrunner Ryan Murphy enlisted Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange, Zoey Deutch, Laura Dreyfuss, Judith Light and Bette Midler amongst others to star.

Despite the acting chops of its cast, nobody seems to be playing too far out of their comfort zone. Platt is brilliant —and I love him—but Payton teeters on and off of likability for the entirety of the season. The sub-plot meant to soften the ambitious politician —unresolved feelings for pretty-boy River Barkley —is just confusing.

Lange’s performance is enjoyable to watch but not necessarily new. Although I liked Deutch’s character, the voice she chose to use for the role gets old very quickly. Paltrow looks like she is just there collecting her paycheck, but she looks fantastic doing it. I cherish anytime Paltrow graces my screen, so she can do whatever she wants.

The most valuable players are the dynamic duo of Light and Midler who play a state senator and her chief of staff, respectively. Midler was my favorite as spitfire Hadassah Gold. She was funny, fierce and a breath of fresh air on my screen. Light’s DeDe Standish was equally interesting and is the keeper of a deliciously provocative secret.

Unfortunately, these two characters do not show up until the very last episode. The good news is that the pair is directly involved in the show’s cliffhanger and will be playing a big role in season two.

Despite season one’s roller coaster ride, the second season, which has already been confirmed by Netflix, does look promising. Season one was riddled with too many plots, characters and camp. The final episode, which begins with a three-year time jump, puts the focus on the emotions of its main character without the distraction of any theatrics. It also does a great job of bringing together its central characters behind a common goal. The episode, “Vienna,” ends the season on a very intriguing note.

Politics is not black or white; it is just politics. Similarly, “The Politician” is not bad, but it also was not really that good; it is just “The Politician.” It is sprinkled with enough delightful moments and suggests a promising sophomore season, so I most likely will be tuning in next year. “The Politician” is now streaming on Netflix.