Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) has only ever had one ambition, to be the President of the USA and everything in his life has been done in pursuit of this ambition. Along with his campaign planning team that includes his girlfriend, Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) and friends James (Theo Germaine) and McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss) he’s on the road to student body president, the first step in his plan.
The road to power has never been a smooth one. Payton’s best friend, River (David Corenswet) has also decided to run under the instruction of his girlfriend, Astrid (Lucy Boynton). Payton’s adoptive brothers hate him and will do anything to sabotage him. His mother (Gwyneth Paltrow) is having an affair with her horse trainer. His running mate, Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch) is dying of cancer… or possibly just being poisoned by her grandmother (Jessica Lange). And Payton’s ruthless ambition might be his own undoing.
There is no question that this is a Ryan Murphy/Bryan Fulchuk production. It has all their hallmarks. It’s intensely colourful, very over the top and full of crazy twists and turns. It also features several of their favourite players. It switches genres from comedy to drama ten times and episode and quietly sneaks in multiple societal issues under the radar while everyone is looking the other way.
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this series. To some extent I am bored with watching the super rich play games and Payton and several of his classmates are ludicrously wealthy. It also sometimes felt like the many machinations were just a tiny bit over the top. On the other hand Platt gives a spectacular performance. I constantly flipped back and forth between finding him loathsome and being oddly charmed by him, which I think was the point. I found his journey to trying to understand his own emotions quite touching. I really liked Infinity for all her bonkersness and as always Jessica Lange steals every scene she’s in.
The last episode opens up a lot of potential for the next season and I loved the introduction of Judith Light and Bette Middler as a duo of old school politicians up against Payton’s modern take on campaigning.
In short, I wasn’t completely sold on The Politician‘s policies but I’ll be back for season two.