Netflix’s first ever Ryan Murphy show The Politician disappoints critics as a political satire but champions diversity in all fronts. Almost everyone in the show is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Netflix’s recent Ryan Murphy show The Politician is shockingly queer with its premise is to make a bisexual young man the President of the USA. But, is America ready for it? Can someone struggling with his own identity problems and is not quite certain of his own sexuality be the President and hold the power?
American comedy-drama, The Politician hit Netflix on September 27, 2019. It tells the story of Payton Hobart who has a girlfriend and at the same time in love with a man. The audience sees Tony Award winner Ben Platt as the ambitious high school senior, Payton Hobart whose biggest plan in life is to become the President of the USA. The show sets at the fictional Saint Sebastian High School in Santa Barbara, California. It focuses on Hobart’s strategies for the student-body presidency. He considers this presidency as the first step to the Oval Office. But is that even possible?
Murphy’s full of stars and twisted show may not make direct references to today’s political climate and for that reason disappoints the critics, yet Murphy calls his show as satire “but with a modern, Trumpy twist.” While Hobart focuses on politics at school and is drunk with power, he loses the primary conditions of being a human which he is aware of. His lack of empathy and constant state of selfishness dooms his failure as the student-body president.
The show tackles the issues that young adults can relate like sexual identity, power dynamics, success and stress disorders. It also focuses on different set of characters with different sexual orientations. On top, the characters are not only queer, but also hold extremely powerful positions. Something that queer character portrayal in TV does not usually have with which the show gives the LGBTQ+ community characters to identify with.
It receives applause from the audience, especially from the LGBTQ+ community with its diverse casting and different portrayal of marginalized individuals. All the major characters are sexually diverse; let it be Payton in a love triangle with his girlfriend Alice and his sexual partner and his biggest love River, or Payton’s mother played by Gwyneth Paltrow who is in love with a woman while she is in a heterosexual marriage, or Payton’s advisor McAfee who is having a secret lesbian affair with Skye Leighton who identifies as a gender non-conforming lesbian.
Moreover, the show cherishes the LGBTQ+ members by casting trans actor Theo Germaine in the role of Payton’s longtime best friend and policy advisor James Sullivan, and the queer African-American actor Rahne Jones in the role of Skye Leighton as her debut. Jones’ character is a silver lining for black queer teens as she is strong, ambitious and determined, something that black queer character portrayal in TV scenery lacks drastically.
With its portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community in such important positions, The Politician gives hope for the LGBTQ+ young adults in real life. It has it all; a bisexual ambitious young male in pursuit of presidency, a disillusioned female adult frustrated in a heterosexual marriage and tries to find herself sexually, a trans male with full of power and wit, and a confused young female in search of love and her own identity. The message is simple: no matter what you are and who you love, you need to be a nice human being first so that success and happiness will find you.
In The Politician, Murphy brilliantly uses his new Netflix deal to create a diverse cast, reach out a huge number of audience and speak up for the voiceless even more. All in all, the show might not satisfy the expectations of the critics yet. It does not comment on current politics hence for now it is difficult to predict if America is ready for a queer president. However, knowing Murphy provides the audience enough interest and belief for the new seasons to come. And it gives hope for the LGBTQ+ community to see a president they can identify with. The show is set to come back with new seasons focusing on different elections for Payton until he paves his way to the White House. For now the audience is left to question; is America ready to see a bisexual president with a homosexual vice president and trans policy advisors?