Series / Political Animals
Hail To The HBIC...

Political Animals is a limited series on USA Network starring Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish Hammond, an American former First Lady, politician, and Presidential candidate who is currently serving as Secretary of State. This may sound familiar. The show also follows her ex-husband Bud Hammond, a former Democratic President, their twin sons, the 3 minutes older T.J. who is gay and struggles with sobriety, and the workaholic Doug who is devoted to working for his mother. The series follows the Hammond family through the travails of political intrigue and awkward family life.

As of November 2012, USA Network announced that, due to lower-than-hoped-for ratings, the show would remain a mini-series.

Tropes present in this series include:

  • The Alcoholic: Elaine's mother and TJ, though Elaine's mother is closer to a Hard-Drinking Party Girl (to the point where it's unclear that the title Lady Drunk really applies to her) than full-blown alcoholic; indeed, she highly dislikes the idea of a person getting themselves in deep enough to have an addiction (having witnessed Elaine's father self-destruct due to his drug addiction) and she bluntly informs TJ that he's headed down the same path as his grandfather if he doesn't get a hold of himself soon.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: TJ uses a Grindr-like smartphone app to hookup with a guy in the first episode, but the lesbian Supreme Court Justice is extremely committed to her ailing partner.
  • Alternate History: With the point of divergence sometime around in the '80s or at least 1992 at the latest; Bud Hammond's presidency seems to have replaced Bill Clinton's, and Hillary's turn as a Senator from New York seems to have been replaced by Elaine as Governor of Illinois.note  Also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was was replaced by Diane Nash (who is the first openly lesbian Supreme Court Justice).
  • Ambition Is Evil: Frequently discussed in terms of Elaine's ambition making her look bad because ambition looks better on men. There's also Georgia, whom Susan compares to Eve Harrington in the first episode, but she's closer to Short-Sighted Ambition Is Evil And Stupid.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Sean Reeves, the married Republican congressman and TJ's secret lover.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Bud Hammond. He has a pretty mean right cross, as the Vice President finds out. He's also responsible for pretty much all the scenery chewing in the show.
  • Broken Ace: Douglas.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Elaine from time to time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The whole family, but especially Elaine's mother, who especially uses this to dispense uncomfortable truths to the younger family members.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Washington, D.C. Or really, anywhere the Hammonds are present.
  • Fiery Redhead: Elaine.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: T.J. and Douglas, respectively. Interestingly for the trope, T.J. almost seems to resent his status more than Douglas resents being The Dutiful Son, believing he just needs a break.
  • Grande Dame: Elaine's mother is advertised as this on the show's promotional materials.
  • Heel–Face Turn: By the first season finale, Susan Berg has become a trusted confidante of Elaine's, despite having spent years trashing her family.
  • Irony: Elaine's mother is a cranky old Lady Drunk who lives by the Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! trope, but she's arguably the most well-adjusted character on the show, consistently warning the others about the potential consequences of their actions (which they promptly ignore and get themselves into trouble), and she's the one person who's Genre Savvy enough to know everyone's secrets and try to push them towards the right direction. She's pretty much the only character on the show who gives consistently sensible advice to the others.
  • Lady Drunk: Elaine's mom.
  • Large Virginia Ham With Maple Glaze Topping: Ex-president Bud Hammond.
  • Lens Flare: Used to indicate flashback scenes.
  • Mile-High Club: Susan Berg, on the Hammond's private jet - with Elaine's son Doug, who's already engaged.
  • My Own Private "I Do": Doug and Annie ("Plan First, Elope Later" variant), in the season finale. Subverted in that TJ deduces where they ran off to (from an earlier talk with Doug). As a result, the entire Hammond clan show up, with food, drink, and Secret Service agents in tow, and Bud performs the nuptials.
  • Nice Guy: Douglas.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Elaine Barrish Hammond is a thinly-veiled Expy of Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bud Hammond of Bill Clinton, with a dash of LBJ for good measure, and the family dynamic off popular perceptions of the Kennedy family. Bud is seen at one point having dinner with a certain bald, bespectacled adviser of his who bears a resemblance to James Carville.
    • Furthermore, The Atlantic has drawn clear parallels between Susan Berg and Maureen Dowd (who famously used her column in The New York Times to call Hillary out on not calling out Bill on his infidelity).
  • No Party Given: Averted with a vengeance. These characters are clearly identified as Democrats.
  • Oh, Crap!: The entire cast; see Wham Episode.
  • Precision F-Strike: With a Bilingual Bonus. After the Russian ambassador grabs Elaine's ass mid-press conference, she warns him - in subtitled Russian - that if he does it again, "I will f*** your shit up!"
  • Product Placement: Skype seems to be the video-chat app of choice at USA Networks. See also Suits.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The Kills, "Future Starts Slow."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Alex, Susan's boss, oddly enough. Also, President Garcetti, who can often be convinced by Elaine to do what's right.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Elaine's Deadpan Snarker Hard-Drinking Party Girl mother.
  • Shout-Out: Adrian Pasdar's President character is a sleazy politician named Garcetti from Baltimore; this is almost definitely meant as a Shout-Out to Tommy Carcetti from The Wire, who goes from Baltimore City Council to Mayor and then finally Maryland Governor by the end of the series, and perhaps is a sort of exploration of what would happen if Carcetti were President.
  • Silent Snarker: The Secret Service agents. Can you really blame them?
  • Stepford Smiler: The Hammond clan is very much a Type A. Elaine even blames it for her losing the nomination, since unlike Bud, she doesn't believe in her speeches and is actually pretty misanthropic.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Elaine and Susan. They lie to/conceal from/regularly betray each other, but at the end of the day still cautiously extend olive branches of trust and friendship to each other.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Annie, Doug's bulimic fiancee.
  • Wham Episode: The season one finale "Resignation Day": Air Force One has crashed and the President is presumed dead.