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‘The Politician’s’ Wild Season 2 Glow-Up

‘The Politician’s’ Wild Season 2 Glow-Up

If you want to fix your show, a great first step is to feature Judith Light in a starring role. 

If you can, it is highly recommended to pair her with Bette Midler, preferably in scenes that have them extolling the virtues of romantic throuples for women over 50, or celebrating the discovery of “spicy lube.”

If Gwyneth Paltrow is already in your show as a somnambulant Santa Barbara socialite, both self-aware of her own privilege and unbothered by the entitled attitude it fosters, please continue to script her swanning around in kaftans—and also, sure, why not have her run for governor of California on a platform of seceding from the Union? 

If you must have a bisexual ghost, yes, he should be played by David Corneswet and brought back almost exclusively to shoot a threesome sex scene.

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The first season of Ryan Murphy’s The Politician on Netflix was a very expensive, very pretty, very confusing mess: a garish mishmash of tones, confusing performances from actors who all seemed to think they’re in different shows, and a kitchen sink of larger cultural points soiled by sticky, tawdry subplots. 

The debut outing out of Murphy’s jaw-dropping $300 million deal with the streamer, and the first project to come out of the slew of similar deals made with megawatt creator-showrunners (Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris, and more), the series was the fascinating test case for how these celebrated auteurs, all graduates of network and cable TV, would seize the Netflix freedom of boundless budgets and no content constraints. 

The maximalism of The Politician didn’t exactly inspire bundles of confidence, except for one major thing. 

After a season of following a vaguely campy, vaguely morose, vaguely ludicrous plot in which ambitious teen Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) campaigns to win his school’s student body presidential election at all costs, the final episode flashed forward to show Payton living in New York City and deciding to run for state senator against a veteran politician played by Light, whose bulldog chief of staff was played by Midler.

Payton sees his youth as his advantage, arguing that Light’s Dede Standish is out of touch with her district’s young constituents. More, his friends discover their power play: Dede is secretly in a bisexual throuple. The episode ends with Payton declaring his candidacy, his high school friends joining him as campaign staff. 

The finale crackled with an energy and element of surprise that was sorely missing from the rest of the first season. Suddenly I, as well as many critics, were excited to watch season two. It’s not typical to be so underwhelmed by a series but also so hyped to watch more of it, but that’s the power of Bette Midler and Judith Light. 

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