Image courtesy of Netflix UK
Despite the casting of actors in their late 20s as high schoolers, The Politician is clearly a show designed for a teenage audience. Every adolescent we’re introduced to in the pilot alone comes equipped with a phone in hand, unnatural monologues which rival even those of Riverdale’s core four and some potentially heavy daddy issues whilegay and lesbian relationships are left, right and centre in the show. Of note, Payton’s complex feelings towards River is beautifully explored throughout the series through the medium of flashbacks and River’s ghost. However, the show missteps when it comes to its queer female representation. Astrid’s bisexuality is alluded to but never explored, as if thrown in only to add more edge to her character; meanwhile, in one scene, an attempt at humour falls flat as McAfee’s partner insults her skills in bed, downright dismissing her attraction to women. She is never given the opportunity to defend herself or clarify her orientation after this. Further, the love Payton’s mother feels for Brigitte is apparently all-consuming, yet in the epilogue, it’s revealed that rather than follow her lover, she went to a different country entirely. It’s not the first time sapphic attraction and relationships have been mishandled in a Netflix show, but it’s still disappointing. Like most shows with Ryan Murphy’s name attached, namely American Horror Story, the plotlines are scattered. Revelations will be made such as James and Alice’s sexual relationship and then not acknowledged again for several episodes. Speaking to character development, a lot of the character’s motivations aren’t realised until halfway through the season, if at all. I fell in love with McAfee and Alice, however, I was never truly given the opportunity to understand their eventual betrayals against Payton. With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that The Politician is Murphy’s worst-rated show since The New Normal. The Politician’s writing isn’t all bad, of course. There is something to be said for the munchausen-by-proxy storyline involving the wispy-voiced Infinity (played by Zoey Deutch which clearly emulates Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s real-life story, down to the ratchet costume design and comically deluded boyfriend). Against shows which have recounted the story with Hulu series The Act, here, the tension is released in moments such as when Payton claps back at Infinity’s grandmother. And with such a talented cast, the comedic timing just can’t be beaten. Do I like The Politician? I’m not sure yet. But I’m excited to watch the next season to find out.