Lately, it feels like every movie has us thinking, “What the fuck did I just watch?” In this series, we will break down exactly what happened in all those wild, mind-bendy, and just plain strange flicks…in a way that’s much easier to understand than the actual film.
This post contains spoilers for Netflix’s The Politician. Warning: discussions of suicide, ahead.
There’s a rumor going around that The Politician is not a perfect show. Some critics have pointed out that it’s a somewhat erratic, emotionally stunted jumble of every brutally satirical thought that’s ever come into Ryan Murphy’s brain-space (that last part was me). They’re not wrong, but they’re also not…right? The Politician has issues because she’s a messy bitch who lives for drama. She’s over-the-top, balls to the wall CAMP, and that’s why I love her. Also, almost every single person on this show is sexually fluid and nobody can take that away from me. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the first episode.
The Politician opens with Payton Hobart (Ben Platt, 26—I am going to provide you with the ages of every “high schooler” because they’re supposed to be teens and it’s the biggest scam on this show about scammers). Basically, he sucks. Interviewing with the Dean of Harvard, he explains he’s been working towards a singular goal his whole life: to be President of the United States. That requires being both rich and poor (he was born to a cocktail waitress, but was adopted by the 1%), going to Harvard, and winning student body president his senior year of high school.
That’s gonna be a problem, though, because the hottest person I’ve ever seen in my life is running against him. Lacrosse stud River (David Corenswet, 26) is under a lot of pressure from his brutally ambitious girlfriend Astrid (Lucy Boynton, 25) who honestly should just be running herself (more on that later).
Payton doesn’t like that—I mean, obviously, River would win. This is bonkers fantasy high school, but it’s still high school—and threatens to tell the school about the time he and River slept together. I told you, Payton sucks! Ben Platt, however, is a lovely human being who deserves the world.
And so does River. During the most serious class president debate ever held, this beautiful specimen of a man opens up about the loneliness all high schoolers deal with, social media bullshit, and his attempted suicide that summer. I have no jokes to make about this.
So, yeah, Payton’s pretty much got no shot, despite what his team of Scream Queen Chanel rejects (Theo Germaine, could be either 15 or 35, honestly), McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss, 31), and Alice (Julia Schlaepfer, ummm no idea) have to say about “the polls.”
Now, Payton needs to court someone, anyone, from the “special ed class, I believe the popular modern vernacular for them is differently-abled” in order to humanize him. That’s the type of sociopaths we’re dealing with here.
He ultimately lands on Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch, 24) a seemingly sunny cancer patient who loves Disney almost as much as Gypsy Rose in The Act (wink wink). She agrees, but only because her ruthless grandmother Dusty, who uses her ward’s cancer for free meals at some sort of fancy Olive Garden sees it as an opportunity for fame and more free things.
It’s a very important position, especially when River announces his VP is Skye (Rahne Jones, 32), a.k.a. the school’s first gender-nonconforming African-American candidate for Vice President. The GOP is screaming.
Devastatingly, we never get to see these two in action together, because the next time Payton confronts his kind-of-lover, River shoots himself. I take it back, I hate this show.
Payton’s worried he doesn’t have the same feelings that everyone else does (you know, like a sociopath) because he hasn’t cried yet. I call bullshit. At the school memorial for River, he performs the most beautiful rendition of “River” by Joni Mitchell, and there is no human on this planet, including himself, who wasn’t moved.
That’s my way of telling you I cried, okay?! I will unfollow anyone who makes a rude Glee joke about this moment. If I don’t follow you, I will start just so I can unfollow you. This is serious.
Miraculously, this all happens only a little over halfway through the episode (and I skipped shit!) So let me wrap up. Astrid announces she will be running against Payton—as she should have since the beginning—and Payton introduces Infinity Jackson as his VP candidate. Everything seems golden! She already has an 80 percent approval rating and a fan account on Instagram! There’s only one problem: Infinity Jackson isn’t really sick.
The Most WTF Moments in The Politician episode one:
- River’s suicide. R.I.P.
- Bizarrely, the next shot immediately following his death focusses on Payton’s adoptive brothers—let’s call them the Winklevoss twins, since I can’t remember their names—talking about big game hunting, and Payton chilling by the pool, seemingly untraumatized. That’s because it’s a flashback, don’t freak out!
- When Astrid blamed Payton for River’s suicide.
- We all agree Astrid is just a mix of Madison Montgomery and Chanel Oberlin, right? Lucy Boynton even looks like Emma Roberts.
- Alice, who I did not realize was Payton’s girlfriend for 3/4 of the episode, asks if he killed River, but says she wouldn’t judge him or turn him in if he did. What the actual?
- Anyways, she comes up with a plan to get Payton the sympathy vote. They stage a cheating scandal and breakup that makes her look like a villain and him a swell dude. All Payton has to do is post secretly coded Instagrams and “look back” at her in the halls so she knows he still loves her. Except, after the breakup he doesn’t do any of those things because he’s clearly jealous she got into Harvard while he only got waitlisted.
- It’s a “WTF moment” that I haven’t mentioned River’s mom, the queen of caftans, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m SORRY. That’s only because her character doesn’t really matter quite yet. She will. Just know she hates her psychopathic biological sons just as much as we do, but loves the sociopath a little too much.
- Payton drives a little convertible with only one seat.
- This whole show, honestly.