Social Isolation Review: “The Politician”

Year: 2019
Creators: Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Ben Platt, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton

By Morgan Roberts

High school is tough. Everything feels like the highest of high stakes.  One wrong move, no matter how miniscule, will be the end of the world.  Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” feels like “Election” (1999) meets “All About Eve” (1950) meets a Coen Brothers’ film ALL on acid.

Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) is gearing up for his senior year and his run for president of his affluent high school. He is ready to win because his path to Harvard and the White House all start with becoming school president.  His opponent, Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton), isn’t going to make it easy and Payton is okay with that. He likes the competition. They aren’t just fighting over class president, but vying for the affection of River Barkley (David Corneswet).

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Platt in The Politician (2019) © Netflix

With his two best friends – and co-Chiefs of Staff – McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss) and James (Theo Germaine) – and his girlfriend, Alice (Julia Schlaepfer), Payton is running a Congressional-level campaign. Being advised by his pro-bono campaign staff, Payton announces his running mate, Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch).  Infinity has been sick her whole life due to a very generic cancer and is cared for by her grandmother Dusty (Jessica Lange). Meanwhile, Astrid aims to show diversity in her campaign despite her whitest privilege, and announces Skye Leighton (Rahne Jones) as her running mate.

“Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” feels like “Election” (1999) meets “All About Eve” (1950) meets a Coen Brothers’ film ALL on acid. “

“The Politician” has a lot of young talent.  Platt, known for the “Pitch Perfect” movies and his Tony award winning role in “Dear Evan Hansen”, carries this show with ease.  Platt balances the political version of Patrick Bateman and a scared high school student very well.  He lets the somewhat manic parts of Payton to be the satire of the piece, while also finding emotions to ground him.

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Lucy Boynton in The Politician (2019) © Netflix

Boyton excels as Astrid.  She makes her an adolescent woman, full of ennui, and finding out that there is way more to the world than winning and tennis and perfection.  Deutch steals every scene she is in.  She makes a very particular choice in regards to how Infinity talks and holds herself.  It is subtle but extremely effective.  Deutch balances Infinity’s innate innocence with her growth without sacrificing either.  Croneswet, Dreyfuss, Germaine, Jones, and Sclaepfer are perfectly cast in their roles, rounding out the young cast.

“Platt balances the political version of Patrick Bateman and a scared high school student very well.  He lets the somewhat manic parts of Payton to be the satire of the piece, while also finding emotions to ground him. “

In addition to Lange, well-established actors are all over this series.  From Gwenyth Paltrow and Bob Balaban playing Payton’s parents, to Dermot McDermott and January Jones playing Astrid’s parents.  Judith Light, Jackie Hoffman, Bette Midler, and Joe Morton make appearances in the show as well.

jessica lange
Jessica Lange in The Politician (2019) © Netflix

“The Politician” is a satire about our youth, and how serious we took everything, when there are clearly WAY bigger things in this world to worry about.  It gives both veteran and newer actors roles to play with.

Available now on Netflix.

1 comment

  1. Good to see this one get a positive review for once. It’s an stunning, smart, and satirical show that’s excellent and fun from start to finish.
    A lot of the actor names have typos here.

    Like

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