The Stars of ‘The Politician’ On What Makes Their Show Special

In search of something to binge on Netflix? We promise you can’t do better than The Politician

The Politician is Ryan Murphy’s newest series. Part satire, part musical, and part heartfelt drama, the show defies both expectations at almost every turn.

The Politician explores the cutthroat world of student politics at a wealthy Santa Barbara high school. Broadway star Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) plays Payton, a precocious seventeen year-old who’s spent his adolescence plotting a path to the US presidency. Payton’s studied the life and work of every American president (Since Ronald Reagan) in an effort to crack the code for how to secure the most powerful office in the land. When we meet Payton, he’s convinced the first step to becoming America’s president is to become president of his high school. The second is to secure admission to Harvard…

Featuring an ensemble of veteran actors, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Judith Light, The Politician is a hilarious satire of twenty-first century politics. Glee alum Laura Dreyfuss plays one of Payton’s campaign advisors on the hot series. As the star explains, the show is “a commentary on the spectacle of politics.” Indeed, the students of this Santa Barbara school have internalized the infotainment version of politics sold to us by CNN, and are all too keen to sabotage and smear their competitors for the chance to run student council.

The Politician’s plot is full of hilarious childish antics (we won’t spoil them for you). Such pettiness feels like the product of youthful folly, until one realizes almost everything these teens do has been attempted by politicians forty years their senior.

Besides being an astute parody, The Politician is breaking new ground regarding representations of sexual and gender diversity. The show has a variety of gender-queer and sexually fluid characters, and yet these teens are never tokenized. Rather, such diversity is treated as a normal part of high school life. Murphy’s writing is truly intersectional, because no character is defined by a single characteristic.

Actor Theo Germaine was thrilled at the chance to participate in such a woke television project. Germaine is a trans-identified performer who plays Payton’s best friend James. “It’s cool the way the show has opened up my world,” explains the actor. Before The Politician, James limited himself to auditioning for roles where the character was explicitly written as transgender. “Now,” says Germaine, “I go after any role. Not just trans roles.”

The cast hope The Politician strikes a chord with Gen Z, the savvy youngsters for whom anti-gun and climate change activism is a way of life. Rahne Jones plays Skye, one of Payton’s political rivals. Says Jones, “Young people are already more interested in politics than we were. Social media exposes them to the issues.”

The end result of Murphy’s innovative teen comedy is a series its cast is truly proud to be part of. In the words of Rahne Jones, “I would watch the show even if I weren’t on it.”

Yep, The Politician really is that good.

 

 

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Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor