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Series / The Politician

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The Politician is a political comedy series created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. It is the first project of Murphy's development deal with Netflix, following the end of his long-running collaboration with FOX / FX.

Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) is an ambitious high schooler who has convinced himself that he will become President of the United States someday, and to start putting that plan in motion, has decided to start small — specifically, becoming student body president of his wealthy Santa Barbara high school. Hilarity Ensues.

Starring alongside Platt is an all-star cast including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow as Payton's mother Georgina, Zoey Deutch as his former running mate-turned-rival Infinity Jackson, and Jessica Lange as Infinity's grandmother Dusty, with Bob Balaban, Dylan McDermott, January Jones, Judith Light, and Bette Midler appearing in other roles.


A second season was confirmed before the first one premiered, with Murphy stating that each planned season of the series will follow Payton through a different election, ultimately leading to his self-prophesied POTUS campaign.

The Politician includes examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Part of the premise of the whole show.
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Payton is a rare male example.
  • The Ace: A lot of the characters are shown to be this, with numerous achievements and Ivy League-acceptances under their belt.
  • Aerith and Bob: Names like Alice, James, Andrew, Martin, and Luther show up with names like Infinity, Dusty, and McAfee.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted. Dusty Jackson is a woman.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: Payton's high school election is ultimately insignificant, but he takes it very seriously.
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  • Amicable Exes: Payton and Astrid go through a phase of being this.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Astrid and Payton both have parents that fit into this trope.
  • Badass Bookworm: Payton, for God's sake, as well as his campaign team.
  • Bald Woman: Infinity, due to her grandmother, who has Munchansen by Proxy, shaving it to make her look sick. After the time skip in the Season One finale she has a chin length bob
  • Betty and Veronica: Astrid is the seductive Veronica to Infinity's Betty and Ricardo's Archie.
  • Black Comedy: This show's humor.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Payton seems to feel a downplayed version of this for Infinity Jackson.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: The first season is about uber-wealthy California prep school students, of which Payton is one of the wealthiest.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In the second episode, Payton plays a piano version of a song called "Run Away". Which was written by Ben Platt, meaning that Platt himself exists in this universe.
  • Class Representative: Payton and Astrid both want to be student council presidents and will go to disturbing lengths to achieve this.
  • The Chessmaster: Payton. Enough said.
  • Comically Small Demand: Ricardo's only request in exchange for telling the police everything about Dusty Jackson is two Filet-o-Fish burgers, fries, and a milkshake.
  • The Cutie: Infinity, though she crosses the line into Badass Adorable at times.
  • Deep South: Infinity's grandmother has an accent that implies she was at least raised Southern.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Infinity to Ricardo. Subverted due to the fact that she's not actually sick, and has a grandmother suffering from Munchausen-by-proxy.
  • Domestic Abuse: Implied with Astrid's parents, though not explicitly shown.
  • Drama Club: Payton and Infinity star as opposite romantic leads in a school musical, presumably to make use of Ben Platt's extraordinary singing talent.
  • Driven to Suicide: River kills himself in the first episode. He mentions an earlier unsuccessful attempt before finally doing it.
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted with Alice, who is shown to be a blonde Teen Genius. Astrid is also a blonde who's by no means dumb.
  • Election Day Episode: A series-length version of this trope.
  • Everybody Is Bi: It's not made out to be that big of a deal, but numerous main characters are shown to be non-straight to some degree.
  • Family Portrait of Characterization: James mentions that famous photographer Annie Leibovitz took Peyton's wealthy family's Christmas photo, and notes it as one reason he's not considered an "accessible" presidential candidate.
  • First-Episode Twist: River commits suicide after he's set up as a protagonist for Payton in the very first episode.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: An aborted attempt by one of Payton's rivals, in which he retaliates by calling them a bigot.
  • Friends with Benefits: Astrid and Ricardo are this, albeit briefly so.
  • Gender-Blender Name: River and Payton are generally seen as feminine names, but are given to male characters here.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Astrid and McAfee.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The student council election. Though Astrid isn't the best candidate, Payton's intentions for running definitely aren't as noble as he'd have you believe.
  • High School Hustler: Payton, alongside virtually every goddamn character in the show.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Payton and Alice.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Ricardo, which is played for comedy once he gets cast in the school musical.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Dusty accidentally(?) shoots Ricardo.
  • Ill Girl: Infinity is a cancer patient going through chemo.
  • Implied Love Interest: Some people see River and Payton as this.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Butt-muncher. The whole butt-muncher thing.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted. While McAfee graduates from Columbia, Payton's admission to Harvard is rescinded and it's too late to buy his way in like his brothers since he was disinherited.
  • Jerk Jock: Both of Payton's brothers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ricardo's unpleasant and not particularly smart, but you can't deny he loves his girlfriend.
  • Large Ham: Infinity has shades of this.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: S1E05 focuses on an undecided voter who simply doesn't give a shit about the election and is more concerned with trying to masturbate in peace.
  • Male Gaze: Well demonstrated from the point of view of a very horny teenage guy in the episode The Voter.
  • The Mistress: Astrid gleefully plays this role to Ricardo when convincing him to run away with her.
  • Morality Pet: Infinity appears to be this for Ricardo.
  • Mr. Fanservice: River is introduced with his shirt off, post-coitus.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Infinity shows shades of this in later episodes. Justified as she spent her entire childhood going through cancer treatment she didn't actually need, and wasn't able to participate in any normal teenage activities.
  • Nerds Are Innocent: Averted. Alice and Infinity are arguably the most clean-cut, preppy characters on the show, but both of them have active sex lives with their respective boyfriends.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The junior Democratic Senator-elect from Texas who appears in the finale is pretty clearly based off of 2018 Senate candidate and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, having both a similar name (Tino) and O'Rourke's presidential aspirations. His prospective running mate, New York Senate Majority Leader Dede Standish, whose district is based in New York City, also bears a striking resemblance to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress as of the first season's premiere. Maloney's district also happens to be based in NYC (funnily enough, prior to his moving to Florida, one of her constituents was Donald Trump himself) just like Standish.
    • Infinity seems to be somewhat inspired by  Gypsy Rose Blanchard.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: Payton sweats "like Nixon" in his debate with River.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dusty dismisses gay people by saying all they do is "munch butts and celebrate Halloween".
  • Polyamory: New York State Senate Leader Dede Standish and her husband are in a threesome relationship with a man named William.
  • Preppy Name: Payton Hobart.
  • Rich Bitch: Pretty much every character seems to be this to some extent, but Dusty fits the description to a tee (albeit less rich than the bulk of the cast since she's able to feed off of people's sympathy for her fake-ill grand-daughter).
  • Riches to Rags: After being found out trying to kill their own father, Martin and Luther are instantly cut off and left with nothing but a very expensive piece of furniture they're instantly in debt for which means they have less than nothing.
  • Secret Test of Character: After awakening from his coma, Keaton is told how his sons are going to kill him for his money. He plays at being in a coma as they show up, discussing how to do it and cover for each other then reveals he's been awake the whole time.
  • Serious Business: The main characters in the first season take the Saint Sebastian High School presidential election incredibly, insanely seriously. To the point where there are honest-to-god assassination attempts. Subverted in episode 5, where we see events from the point of view of one of the "voters" (i.e. another student) who isn't involved, doesn't particularly care, and ends up not even voting, with the implication being that this is far from uncommon.
  • Take That!: The hilarious nonchalance with which Georgina and the admission officers talk about bribery to get into Harvard is a huge one to the frequent practice of rich families buying their children into college and especially those implicated in the recent college admission scandal.
    • The opening credits pan over a long list of Presidential biographies (every president from Ronald Reagan on), many of which are award winners. When it gets to Donald Trump, it's An Idiot's Guide to Clowning.
    • A couple of potshots are taken at libertarians during the series. Astrid's rather unpleasant father met her mother because he hired her as an escort at a Ron Paul fundraiser and Payton describes the titular Straw Loser character of The Voter as a libertarian.
  • Time Skip: The season 1 finale "Vienna" moves three years into the future.
  • The "The" Title: The Politician.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Infinity is a recovering cancer patient. Or so it seems, since Dusty has been deliberately keeping her ill so she won't leave.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Skye is a black lesbian who's gender non-conforming to boot.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Infinity is sweet, helpful and seems to be a pretty good kid. Why she would go with Ricardo is anybody's guess, but it might have something to do with this Trope.


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