- The Politician
- Finished watching:
- 13th September, 2020
Might contain spoilers.
This was a fun show. Both seasons were available by the time I got around to it, so I watched them together. I did think the more limited scope of the first one made it more enjoyable, since the characters’ transgressions were milder and more easily forgiven (for the most part). One can only hope there is never a third season.
The casting was absolutely perfect: Payton, River, Alice, Astrid, James, Infinity, Payton’s entire family, Infinity’s mother… I might as well name every single character, and that’s just the first season! I can’t help but mention, though, that I was completely bowled over by Benjamin Barrett in particular. The way he navigated the fine line between comedy and menace when Ricardo forced Dusty—Jessica Lange, another standout in an ensemble of flawless performances—to listen to how he poisoned Payton was sublime. It was a performance to be studied by anyone with even a passing interest in the profession of acting. (Oh, and speaking of Ricardo, I couldn’t stop giggling at how everyone thought he sang beautifully. It was an amusing running gag.)
The show’s perspective on Payton is confusing. He is certainly its hero, but it tries to maintain a veneer of objectivity by lightly censuring his actions. I suppose the same applies to other characters as well, such as his mother (whom I didn’t much care for), by the end. In fact, the show doesn’t seem to know how it feels about anything, when you get right down to it. There are so many different agendas, perspectives, and moments of moral superiority that it says everything at once and therefore nothing. It’s a story to be enjoyed for the drama, compelling enough but devoid of meaning.
I was sad there was such minimal representation of BIPOC across the two seasons. It seems like a missed opportunity.
Alice’s vacillation between romance with Payton and romance with other people made me roll my eyes.
The title sequence is excellent. The visuals alone brilliantly portray the construct that Payton creates to further his ambitions. The use of Chicago by Sufjan Stevens gives the sequence a surprising profundity.