Netflix’s newest original series shows darkest side of high school politics

Payton Hobart, portrayed by Ben Platt, listening to questions in the presidental debate.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Payton Hobart, portrayed by Ben Platt, listening to questions in the presidental debate.

“The Politician is a comedy about moxie, ambition, and getting what you want at all costs. But for those who struggle with their mental health, some elements may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.”    

This ominous warning is how the first episode is opened, warning viewers who may have issues with mental illness. 

“The Politician’’ is a dark comedy that comments on the popularity contest that is politics, while sprinkling in comic relief relating to white privilege and the high school social structure. It stars Ben Platt, who is known for his role in Pitch Perfect, and is also a Broadway veteran with his role in “Dear Evan Hansen.” Platt plays Payton Hobart, a Santa Barbara teen determined to become president of the United States. However, before he can get there, he is convinced he must become student body president. With Peyton’s devoted circle of followers, including fellow Broadway actress Laura Dreyfuss as McAfee, and newcomers to television such as Julia Schlaepfer and Theo Germaine as Alice and James Sullivan, Peyton is ready to face the election head-on. However, with plot twists at every corner, this election is not going to be easy.  

Although “The Politician” stays true to its warning, it also shows spots of light comedy and comments on relevant issues in today’s society, such as political differences, classism, and lack of diversity in television. Although it is unclear how the election will end for Payton, his campaign would almost be comical if it wasn’t so cutthroat, with the large amounts of extravagant, seemingly earth-shaking events in every episode. There are also sly mentions to Trump’s campaign and election, stemming from the very first scene. Topics of classism are also discussed, with a clear case of Munchausen by Proxy evident in the mother of Payton’s ill running mate. Payton also defines himself as both “rich and poor” because he was the son of a single cocktail waitress, but was placed in a family of great wealth. 

“The Politician” is a show about what it means to be queer, and have to stifle that part of yourself to survive, something that the director and creator, Ryan Murphy, can relate to. It’s a show about what happens when an entire culture decides that some opinions are more relevant over others, which can be demonstrated in the lack of diversity in the government today.

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