The condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects: Perfection
This is what Ryan Murphy is able to create in only eight episodes of "The Politician," a show that will make you laugh, make you cry and make you think you about just how much politics has entered our lives in ways we would have never even imagined.
The show is centered around Payton Hobart, played by the sensational Ben Platt, who has a life-long dream of becoming president of the Unites States.
Payton and his team created a very detailed and specific list of achievements needed for them to reach the White House, with winning their high school election being one of them. They believe that reaching this milestone is crucial to their success and would do anything to win.
Along the way there’s death and even more drama, but, hey, that’s politics.
Payton shortly finds out that his secret lover, popular hunk River Barkley (David Corenswet), is running against him for student body president, and things quickly turn ugly.
Watching River be as sweet and charismatic as he had been with Payton really reminded me how no one really knows the daily battles and demons people fight every day. River was extremely sad and hurt but still treated everyone, especially Payton, with so much care and love.
At the next debate River stops and tells everyone about how he tried to kill himself the previous year, and this was one of the last times the whole school saw River. Soon after River takes his life in front of Payton right after saying he loved him.
River was the only person that made Payton truly acknowledge his emotions, with them sharing the common burden of trying hard to be happy and being tired of lying about their lives. Without him, Payton begins to worry if all he’ll ever do is pretend to feel.
Clearly, that’s a lot for anyone to handle, but, being the politician he is, Payton continues with the race. Now he has to run against River’s girlfriend and his long-time nemesis Astrid Sloan, played by Lucy Boynton, who decides to take Rivers' place in the election after his death.
Throughout the show, we see Payton’s internal struggle with facing his emotions, with the viewer left wondering what’s real and what’s all pretend.
To make himself look better to voters, Payton gets a known cancer patient at his school, Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch), to run as his Vice President. The queen of drama herself, Jessica Lange, plays Infinity's nana, Dusty Jackson, who uses Infinity to get free things and pushes her to join Payton’s campaign to exploit her even more.
During the election there’s a rumor that floats around about Infinity's medical history and if Dusty is really telling the truth about Infinity having cancer.
I found myself thinking like Payton when assessing the situation, and it made me think about people’s real intentions and how we focus on the wrong things when we have such a big goal in mind.
Ben Platt is a star, and he shines as bright as ever in this role. Not only are his own songs showcased in the show, but he has a beautiful duet with Zoey Deutch and performs ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell, which Payton dedicates to River after his death that gave me chills and left me in tears.
Platt also rejoins co-star Laura Dreyfuss, who plays Payton’s childhood friend McAfee Westbrook, for the "Dear Evan Hansen" reunion we didn’t deserve but so graciously received.
They also pay homage to one of my favorite movies, "Gone Girl," and touch on so many more important issues like representation in politics and the power of voters. Overall, the show does a great job at highlighting the pressures teen face today with social media and feeling the need to be different but not stand out too much and face judgment.
The need to feel like you’re doing everything right and according to plan can be emotionally draining and allow you to lose sight of the amazing things that could be happening around you that you don’t even notice.
When Payton and the rest of the teens’ plans start to unravel is when they start to see how great life can truly be. It emphasizes how life has its ups and downs, but just because the plan you made doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that something great isn’t going to happen.
Ryan Murphy has outdone himself once again. The sets, locations, fashion, writing, cinematography--everything is absolutely breathtaking. They promised nasty women and bipartisanship, and we got that and so much more.
Without a doubt, Ben and the rest of the cast has got my vote for season two.