“Subtlety Is Not My Forte”
After running a polticial campaign into the ground, Wunderkind Raff finds his life at rock bottom, propped up by a heady cocktail of booze and regret. However, when an 11 year old YouTube sensation puts his bid in for presidency, Raff sees the profound effect he has on the general populace and decides to mentor him into office.
From here we follow Oliver’s rise to presidency, promising big things with little substance. There’s a good dose of “Making America Great Again” here and the metaphorical comparison with Donald Trump really stands out here, much to the detriment of the episode.
With the cracks already forming, we skip forward to the first presidential debate which is an absolute disaster to say the least. Oliver fumbles his words and while the various politicians laugh at his lack of knowledge on taxes, his Mum and Dad rush over and take him home.
It all seems to be over for Raff and Oliver’s bid for presidency until he learns Oliver’s dog Homer is dying. Against his better judgment, he then uses that as campaign fodder to prop Oliver back into the Presidency driver seat where he wins and becomes President of the United States.
With an unweildy amount of power, Oliver’s persona suddenly changes, becoming irrational and spoilt whilst progressing with the free video games promise he made to the people. Challenging anyone who tries to argue against him, Oliver’s tyrannical behaviour concerns Raff but everyone else seems to be on board.
Unfortunately his concerns are made out to be treasonous and after a showdown playing golf together, Oliver shouts that he has a gun and Raff is shot down. We then cut to the end scene where a doctor tells him hes not allowed to operate due to the law. As he fades out of frame, a child steps forward, hacking away before one final monologue from The Narrator.
While the episode content is okay, in true Jordan Peele fashion the political and societal commentary is not subtle. Infact it’s so blatant it actually feels insulting and a dig at the current political climate in America. Now, don’t get me wrong, as a Brit I’m not fully consumed in American politics nor am I a fan of Trump or his politics but this message is so obvious it spoils the ideas at play.
It’s also worth pointing out that Black Mirror already tackled this very same subject several years ago with their episode about a cartoon bear running as an MP. Within that episode the themes were grounded and subtle enough that the narrative could run on its own without diving too deeply into the ideas. Wunderkind is not that subtle. Nor is it particularly clever.
It’s a shame but unfortunately this episode just did not work and if this is what’s in store for us for the rest of The Twilight Zone, I’m struggling to see how this one will get renewed for a second season.