Netflix’s Newest Hit

Why You Should Put Down Stranger Things and Watch The Politician


The Politician’s Theo Germaine, Julia Schlaepfer, Laura Dreyfuss

You may have heard of Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and, of course, 13 Reasons Why, but have you popped onto Netflix recently to find The Politician?

Let’s break it down little by little.

The Politician is a new Netflix show that premiered online on September 27, 2019. The star is Ben Platt, famous for Dear Evan Hansen  and The Book of Mormon as well as Pitch Perfect. His co-leads in less emphasized and partially-separated storylines are Zoey Deutch, known for Suite Life on Deck among other credits, and Lucy Boyton, of the Academy Award-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, while Gwyneth Paltrow and Bob Balaban occupy supporting roles.

Platt, 26 years old, convincingly plays high school senior Payton Hobart, who is running for Student Body President of Saint Sebastian High School, a feeling I really struggled to relate to. However, his opponent is his own former tutor River Barkley, with whom he had a brief but meaningful affair. Unfortunately, River’s campaign meets an unfortunate end before it is taken up by his girlfriend Astrid, portrayed by Boynton, who has a strange obsession with hurting Payton.

For Payton, the campaign is much more about winning the election than serving the office. Though I hesitate to see it his way, it’s much more about the title for Payton as he has long struggled with truly caring about the student’s other interests. Much unlike Magnet, Saint Sebastian allows their candidates to pick running mates, an issue that neither Payton nor Astrid can ever control. What this creates for the audience is nothing short of spectacular. Payton debates with his campaign staff, played by rising stars Theo Germaine, Julia Schlaepfer, and Laura Dreyfuss, for several weeks over who to bring in based on what impact they can have on vote count. In the end, the much-debated Haitian vote becomes a key factor.

As the election progresses, we learn more and more about the difficult familial situations of both Payton and Infinity Jackson, Deutch’s character and one of many VP candidates. Without spoiling the winding plot path, I must say the VP race is more death-defying than even the presidential race. However, it is the future of the series many have focused on. The ending of Season 1 not only left a door open for future episodes but moves into the future to set up the second season.

Finally, we must note how open and inclusive the show is. Not only do we see several differently-abled students thriving at Saint Sebastian, but the main vice presidential candidate through the series is a gender-nonconforming black female that stands out as a leader in the affluent California school. Likewise, the main characters normalize and promote the portrayals of sexually fluid teens as well as teens with mental health and familial issues. For instance, the early episodes tackle Payton’s struggle to earn his parents’ approval as an adopted son that differs heavily from his athletic older brothers, who are his parents’ biological children. Likewise, later storylines see Infinity learning to adjust to life with multiple perspectives confronting her rather than blindly trusting her grandmother.