I’ve come across some pretty incredible shows within my first few months at the University of Delaware, but none quite like “The Politician” on Netflix. This series was released at the end of September and stars Ben Platt as the emotionally unavailable Payton Hobart alongside other big names including his “Dear Evan Hansen” co-star Laura Dreyfuss, Jessica Lange and Gwenyth Paltrow. It also introduces faces that are sure to gain recognition from their spectacular performances, specifically Zoey Deutch and Theo Germaine.
I’ll be the first to admit that, when the trailer was released, I assumed the show was set in a prestigious university, not a high school in Santa Barbara, California. Despite this confusion, the setting makes a whole lot of sense when you notice the abundance of money that each character has in their possession.
The majority of my praise for this series goes to its realistic depiction of a diverse student body. Unlike other shows, “The Politician” includes actors from all walks of life without tokenizing the aspects that make them different. Theo Germaine plays James Sullivan, a character whose gender identity is never explicitly stated. He’s one of Payton’s closest friends along with McAfee Westbrook, played by Laura Dreyfuss. These characters are prime examples of how fluid gender and sexuality are, not only in the series but in real life.
The diversity doesn’t end there. Here are just a few more examples: Ryan J. Haddad plays Andrew, a stereotypical pot-stirrer who happens to have cerebral palsy. The principal of the high school is played by deaf actress Natasha Ofili and “The Politician” is her first television role. Rahne Jones plays Skye Leighton, a nonbinary classmate and running mate of River Barkley, Payton’s opponent. Basically, what I’m getting at is that Ryan Murphy continues to prove time and time again that it’s not difficult to put together a realistically diverse cast of actors.
“The Politician” is a complex narrative about the pressures teenagers put on themselves and how they deal with them. Without going into too much detail, I can promise that you won’t regret starting this show. Especially since star, Lucy Boynton revealed that they began filming the second season just last month. The over-the-top color palette and outfit choices for each character are infectious. Don’t even get me started on the brilliant soundtrack.
If anything should convince you, maybe it’s the fact that Ryan Murphy was smart enough to allow Ben Platt’s musical talents to shine in three performances throughout the series, including a tear-jerking rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River” that you can cry to here. Happy streaming!