Netflix. Photo Courtesy Released into public domain via Wikimedia Commons
By Justin Capera
Ryan Murphy’s first ever Netflix original series “The Politician” is an intense journey where you will want to cry, scream at your TV and cheer on your favorite candidate while shaming the one you despise the like you would when the 2020 election comes around. Murphy, the creator of some of the most successful shows this decade with Fox’s “Glee” and FX’s “American Horror Story” uses his already well known formula and dials it up to a thousand.
Tony award winner Ben Platt plays Payton Hobart, a wealthy young man who wants to become president of the United States. However, he first has to become president of Saint Sebastian High School, and this is where all the political games come to play.
Hobart becomes obsessed with winning the presidency as he believes it will help him get into Harvard, which will then pave his way to the White House. However, this path has many bumpy roads with twists and turns that will make you lose your mind, wondering where the story is going to go next. Murphy’s signature style is shown all throughout the eight episode season debut, and of course since it is a Murphy series the occasional musical performance.
Hobart is a complex character who struggles with his bisexuality, his hateful older twin brothers, and his ruthless campaign against his political rival Astrid. Hobart has a loving but love deprived mother played by Gwyneth Paltrow, a running mate who has munchausen syndrome by proxy storyline ripped straight out of Hulu’s “The Act”, and he uses political power plays on par with HBO’s “Game of Thrones” minus the dragons. Hobart focuses so much of his energy on being the best politician that he questions if he even knows how to be the best person. This inner conflict he faces is a story element that is used constantly in all of Ryan Murphy’s shows.
Hobart’s ambition and stop-at-nothing attitude to reach his goals (even at the expense of his friends), is classic Murphy storytelling. Hobart’s intense drive to win class president is reminiscent of Rachel Barry, the main character of Fox’s “Glee”, another Murphy creation. Murphy once again makes his main character shine the most, even in “The Politician” where famous actresses like Jessica Lange and Bette Midler star as, you still root for Hobart.
The show does a fantastic job at treating its audience with intelligence when necessary, but doesn’t take itself too seriously with over the top antics. This is a technique that Ryan Murphy has mastered with all of his shows. The story is more than just Payton Hobart’s dream of becoming president of the United States. It’s about white privilege, Generation Z’s obsession with perfection, the lengths people will go to in order to gain power, and the numbers we do to our health when we are not our authentic selves. “The Politician” grabs all the elements from Murphy’s shows and blends it to where we left with the wonderful, all over the place mix this show gives.
Astrid has a non-gender conforming running mate named Skye who makes the audience question why minorities have let heterosexual white men stay in positions of power, when they leave out people like Skye during their campaign promises. Murphy lets the audience think about such an important topic even while they enjoy the comedic elements the show brings.
“The Politician” is Ryan Murphy’s first show with Netflix after signing a $300 million deal, meaning he will have more Netflix shows to come. “The Politician” is now streaming only on Netflix.