• Tamar Lilienthal

The Politician Ep. 1 Review

Fans across the globe have been anxiously awaiting the premiere of the new Netflix show, The Politician. Starring Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoey Deutsch, and others, the show tells the story of high school student Payton Hobart (played by Platt) who hopes to one day become president of the United States but must first win the election for school president.

Payton, a wide-eyed hustler with an insatiable ambition, is also an adopted child who struggles to fit into his incredibly wealthy family. He attends a school with equally wealthy students and a social scene that seems difficult to understand. In an attempt to win the school presidential election against his archnemesis, Payton enlists Infinity Jackson, a girl battling cancer, to be his running mate. And just as the episode is coming to a close, Payton is alerted that Infinity may be faking her illness.

Seems like a lot happening at once? That’s definitely true. It almost seems like the show, in an attempt to keep your attention on it for as long as possible, finds every available twist and turn to the point where it becomes unrealistic. For example, how possible is it that someone could fake having cancer without getting caught? In addition to this, the characters seem out of touch with the realities of the average high school students in America today. Most kids are not living in mansions with spiraling staircases and servants to assist in their every need. Nor are most high school presidential elections as intense as they are depicted in The Politician.

Granted, one of the show’s creators, Ryan Murphy, is known for his outrageous and extravagant ideas, as he was also the creator of American Horror Story and Glee. However, The Politician seems exceptionally difficult to connect to. It seems as though it takes place in a world where high school students act like full-grown adults and every interaction is over-dramatized.

The show’s saving grace is found in Ben Platt, who is undoubtedly a star. While he previously played roles that struggled with anxiety and social ostracism, Platt manages to play the role of egomaniac Payton convincingly. And as a treat to fans who have seen Platt in musical theatre, he also sings in the show! In the first episode, Platt’s character performs a heart wrenching rendition of “River” by Joni Mitchell. And it seems that he might sing in future episodes as well. His character, Payton, is also an intriguing one to follow. While he seems emotionless and difficult to connect to when he is at school, Payton becomes a softie when he gets home, especially when talking to his mom. I am interested in seeing how Payton develops as a character moving forward.

Will I continue to watch the rest of the season? As a Ben Platt aficionado, I probably will. But I do hope the plot normalizes significantly. If the show hopes to reach a young adult audience, it will need to be something that young adults can relate to.

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