The Politician Review: Ryan Murphy's First Netflix Series Tackles Wealth and Politics with Signature Style

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The Politician, from the minds of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, is a satirical series focusing on a young man whose political aspirations start to overtake every fiber of his being. 

From the get-go, it's clear the show comes from the people that brought us Glee and Scream Queens. It has that comedic tone that viewers warmed to on the shows that came before it. 

Ben Platt delivers a stunning performance as a teenager masking his insecurities by pushing himself into the political race at school. 

Politician Picture

He's determined to get into an Ivy League college all on his own -- without any handouts from his family.

He also feels like he possesses the skills and traits to become the spokesperson for his school. 

Payton Waits

He has a whole political career planned out, and he doesn't want to let anyone stand in the way of his aspirations. 

It's not often on a show about rich people that someone wants to do something based on their own merits as opposed to using their bank balance to further themselves, but here we are. 

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But Payton is not your typical teenager. There are many flaws in his character. He's poised to be one of the most polarizing figures on all of television. 

It's rare for such a character to be at the wheel of a TV show. Viewers will struggle with whether to put him in the hero or the villain camp. 

The Politician Poster

Characters who spend most of their time grey areas tend to be written better than the goody two-shoes, and Ryan Murphy and his team know how to masterfully bring these characters to life. 

Payton has a group of close friends who want to be by his side every step of the way, and they strive to do whatever they can to make sure Payton is the one with all the control. 

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But they don't even really understand him. The same can be said for his girlfriend, Alice. 

The only person who really understands Payton is Georgina, his very fashionable mother. 

Georgina and Payton

In Georgina, Gwyneth Paltrow lights up the screen with one of her most mesmerizing roles to date. 

Her ultimate goal is to nurture Payton to the point that all of his dreams come true. Georgina has a heart of gold and prefers to make other people happy than herself. 

The mother-son bond is on full display throughout The Politician. Viewers will probably start to turn on Payton, even more, when it becomes clear just what his mother is giving up to help him. 

Teenagers bicker too much with their parents on TV these days, but Payton and Georgina genuinely enjoy each other's company, and they do things that you wouldn't expect wealthy people to do. 

Gwyneth Paltrow on The Politician

They even watch Dr. Pimple Popper at one point. If you haven't heard of that show, then be warned that the title is an accurate representation of what the show is. Avoid googling it if you're squeamish. 

The actual campaign plays out about as well as can be expected when you have a bunch of well-off kids vying for power. 

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Payton desperately wants an image overhaul, and that's part of the reason why Infinity (Zoe Deutch) and her grandmother Dusty (Jessica Lange) come into things. 

Infinity is sick, and Payton thinks that giving her a voice will win him some praise with his peers, but Dusty is not about to let her grandaughter be taken for a ride by the trust fund kids. 

Jessica Lange on The Politician

Ryan Murphy and his team have done it again. They have crafted another character for Lange to show off her impressive range. She's quite simply excellent in this role that's very reminiscent of her Constance Langdon one from American Horror Story: Murder House. 

These are the type of roles that Lange excels with and don't be surprised if she finds herself getting some more love on the awards front as a result of The Politician. 

Astrid, the girlfriend of Payton's opponent, is played by Lucy Boynton, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was a role written for Emma Roberts. Astrid feels like the type of character Murphy would write for the American Horror Story and Scream Queens alum. 

Lucy Boynton on The Politician

That's not to say Lucy Boynton was not memorable. She played the role very well, and I'm intrigued to see which roles she takes on next. 

There are some appearances from some big names throughout the eight-episode first season, but I won't delve any further into them because I want you to be surprised. 

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Overall, The Politician is a strong contender for the best show of the year. That's not something to be taken lightly. 

The series delivers first-rate acting, a killer script, and twists you would not expect. Seriously, every single time you think you know what's going on, the rug will be pulled from under you. 

The Politician is a solid first series for Murphy and his team on Netflix. If it's the shape of things to come, then expect some more hits. 

Will you be watching The Politician?

The series debuts September 27 on Netflix. 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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