The Politician – Gossip Vote

Ryan Murphy, Glee and American Crime Story’s showrunner,
presents its first Netflix show, and picks at the contemporary political mechanisms with his usual sarcasm. Putting them in a swanky high school.

By Perrine Quennesson

Reading time 3 min.

The politician


The West Wing meets Gossip Girl. If we had to sum up Ryan Murphy’s new tv show, we could say it this way. We follow Payton Hobart, a rich kid, student at Saint Sebastian, a fancy high school in Santa Barbara, California. Convinced since he is 7 years old that he will one day become President of the United States, he will stop at nothing to have the most spotless path, starting with — of course — securing a place in Harvard the following year. Before that, he has to become President of the Student Body, according to his thorough observations, stats and studies of the political history of his country. But it is not as easy as he hoped it would be.

regularly rotating between different styles and genres,
always keep their tangy tone 

Known for their tv shows Glee, American Horror Story ou Nip/Tuck , Ryan Murphy and his longtime stooge Brad Falchuk are great providers of quality small screen fictions. While regularly rotating between different styles and genres, they always keep their tangy tone to talk about the shortcomings and the incoherences of our time. Used to traditional networks, they just signed a 5 years contract with Netflix, which gave birth to the Politician. And it is obvious that his recipe remains : chose a subject, an offset angle and a strong aesthetic (here, it is very kitch) and to have fun…But with an accurate sense if writing. And it probably is the most surprising aspect of The Politician. While the show clearly attacks the mechanisms of American politics — between clientelism, populism and backstabbing —and a form of elites, it is disconcerting in its narration.

Nothing is obvious here, no path seems to be set. The characters are rather hard to pin down, and it is impossible to know where this first season is going throughout each episode. This feeling of losing your marks, although confusing, is particularly satisfying as it pricks the viewer’s curiosity, who doesn’t know what to expect. A bit disjointed at some points, this first season of The Politician ends where it should have started : when the political battle begins. It gives us the feeling that it took eight episodes to tell what would have just been a couple of flash-backs in another tv show, in another context. It reminds us that every period of our lives is just a rehearsal for the next, under the condition that we understand and correct our mistakes. Voted : we are waiting for season 2.

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