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CULTURE

Dark Comedy Series ‘The Politician’ Brings Politics to Teen World

Ben Platt in The Politician (Photo: Netflix)
Ben Platt in The Politician (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

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

“The Politician” is a new dark comedy series from Netflix that brings American politics to a high school setting, symbolically and satirically, focusing on an ambitious young man who runs for class president.

Produced by Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”), the new series takes place in present-day Santa Barbara, California. Each season will be about a different campaign run by its title character, Payton Hobart (Ben Platt, Pitch Perfect), who has his eyes set on the U.S. presidency in his real life someday.

The cast includes some big names including Gwyneth Paltrow as Hobart’s mother, Georgina; Jessica Lange as the grandmother of Hobart’s VP; Zoey Deutch as Hobart’s VP, Ingrid; and Lucy Boynton as Hobart’s main rival for class president, Astrid Sloan.

The character of Hobart is already being compared to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school student and gun control activist David Hogg or U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Reviews also remark at Hobart’s questionable “political” motives and persona in the series—he’s willing to trample over his girlfriend and exploit a terminally ill classmate in his quest for success—no doubt paralleling the exploits of real-life politicians.

The premise of the series naturally lends itself for meaty subjects like conformity, privilege, race, class, and sexism—in relation to politics. As often the case for shows from openly gay producer Murphy, “The Politician” has a strong LGBTQ presence including the protagonist himself. The themes of historically marginalized groups will also include people of color, women, and disabled people.

Paradoxically, most of the main characters are white and affluent, including Hobart, which if anything, allows for an expansive palette of subject matter altogether.

Lead actor Platt assured that the series has something valuable to say for everyone: “‘The Politician ‘shows that all people from all walks of life struggle with the same issues of identity, authenticity and proving themselves.”

He also emphasized the show’s timely but perhaps sensitive depiction of mental health.

At the start of the first episode, there is a disclaimer noting: “‘The Politician’ is a comedy about moxie, ambition, and getting what you want at all costs. But for those who struggle with mental health, some elements may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.”

The new series stylistically resembles producer Ryan Murphy’s other work as well, with its mix of socially relevant storylines, flamboyancy, and even some musical numbers thrown in.

With the current incendiary political climate in the U.S., it’s fitting that “The Politician” will bring these hot topics into the teen world, in ways that have never been explored before.

“The Politician” debuted on Netflix streaming on September 27.

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