‘The Politician’ is a Technicolor Fever Dream


Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bennett

WJ junior Becca Bennett tunes in to watch one of the hottest shows of the season. The Politician is an easily binge-able romp, clocking in at only 8 episodes.

*Includes spoilers*

Secret romance, over the top drama and Gwenyth Paltrow gardening in ridiculously formal ensembles are just some of the things that characterize this new release from Netflix. Starring Ben Platt as Payton Hobart, The Politician follows a dangerously ambitious high school senior who’s had his sights set on the White House since the second grade.

The show starts out as a run of the mill high school dramedy, following Hobart’s cutthroat campaign for student body president. It has the same dreamlike quality of other shows in its genre, with high school students being played by ethereal twenty five year olds with perfect skin and unnaturally white teeth. Everything is high stakes all of the time, and Hobart is characteristically high strung, a caricature of the modern Ivy league bound overachiever.

Thankfully, this is where the parallels to shows like Riverdale end. In a compact eight episode package, The Politician delivers. A true Gen Z drama, the Politician introduces characters on a wide spectrum of sexuality and gender with inner lives that subvert their types, and inexplicable sequences that subvert the genre.

River Barclay (played by David Corenswet), Hobart’s Kennedy-esk opponent and sporadic love interest, commits suicide at the end of the first episode, enciting the events of the next seven episodes. Serving not only as shock value, his death also sparks growth for Hobart, for whom Barclay served as an emotional balm. He now must learn to live without him, and we see Hobart struggle with this for the length of the show in a more realistic portrayal of grief than one would expect to see.

However, the show has its faults. If the arc of Infinity Jackson (Hobart’s running mate played by Zoey Deutch) as a victim of Munchausen By Proxy felt like deja vu, it’s for good reason. This plot was already thoroughly covered in Hulu’s The Act, chronicling the real life events surrounding the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy. Jackson’s character felt like a thinly veiled and cheap rehashing of a story we already know.

Overall, The Politician doesn’t take itself too seriously. Delving into the downright absurd with assassination attempts, fake kidnappings, and awkwardly imbedded musical numbers (because when you have broadway star Platt, you’d better be sure he’s going to sing), the show is a complex rollercoaster ride with a backdrop of lush Southern California wealth. Viewers will enjoy watching Payton, and everyone around him, devolve into insanity at something as seemingly simple as a high school presidential election.