Pilot – | Review Score – 4/5
The Harrington Commode – | Review Score – 3.5/5
October Surprise – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Gone Girl – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Voter – | Review Score – 3/5
Assassination of Payton Hobart – | Review Score – 4/5
Assassination of Payton Hobart: Part 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Vienna – | Review Score – 4/5
The Politician is a show you’ll either love or hate. Not quite comedic enough to land its jokes every time but not quite dramatic enough to see its strong themes pack a punch, The Politician muddles along somewhere in the middle and for large stretches of the series, this actually works quite well. If you can go into this one with an open mind and expect a wacky, over-the-top satirical dramedy that plays on American politics, you’re sure to enjoy this.
Determined to become President one day, The Politician’s story revolves around Payton Hobart, a high school student who sets his sights on becoming student body President; the first step toward landing that lucrative White House gig. From here, the majority of the story sees Payton explore a myriad of different issues during his campaign run across campus, with topics like gun violence, scandalous video tapes and back-stabbings added to spice things up.
Fleshing out Payton’s world are a host of colourful characters who all have their own conflicts and issues going on too. Aside from a jarring and incredibly dark suicide early on, most of the series does a good job fleshing out these character arcs. There’s an awful lot going on here though and while some of the ideas and themes are nicely implemented, others struggle to be given the room needed to breathe.
From xenophobia and gun violence through to feminism and the recent LGBT movement, The Politician adds a lot of different flavours to its mix but never quite doubles down on them enough to allow them to hit with any sort of intensity. At times it almost feels like ticking boxes as we move from one issue to the next without ever delving into the gritty details. During the first episode a suicide rocks the school only it’s never quite followed up with any weight from there on out. There’s issues about gun violence but they’re never progressed beyond an amusing campaign idea and throughout the series this is an all-too-common occurrence.
The Politician is certainly a quirky and unusual show though and it absolutely stands out amidst the glut of TV released this time of year, which is worth commending for that alone. It may not be the best drama out there but it’s enjoyable enough to see you through to the end nonetheless. The different length for each episode is a nice touch and there’s some pretty good comedic timing during a few of the jokes but The Politician largely sticks to its dark drama here.
The one part of the show that really works well though is the aesthetic. With bright, vibrant visuals throughout the series, this ironic juxtaposition contrasts beautifully with the dark themes discussed throughout the show, complementing that satirical feel that The Politician boasts during large stretches of the series. The camera work is pretty solid too and there’s certainly some nice shots throughout the series that accompany this unique visual style.
You’ll know pretty early on whether The Politician is a show for you. While the tone tends to flit between comedy and drama, The Politician is a satirical commentary on American politics first and foremost, and certainly isn’t shy about getting dark with its material. At times it does so at the expense of thought provoking reflection and this is certainly not a groundbreaking series to help with any social movements. There’s enjoyment to be had here but whether you’ll take to this one or not really depends on your palette when it comes to comedy. If you’re not sold by the first few episodes I’d recommend moving on but for those who can take to this style, The Politician boasts enough enjoyment and drama to have you hanging on anxiously for a second season.