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Review: The Politician season two

Written by TV, TV Reviews

Evan Hansen, sorry – Ben Platt, is back in season two of The Politician. Full of the usual political drama and scandal, does Payton Hobart finally fulfil his promise to promise us everything? Or does he begin to resemble a certain politician with orange tan and blonde, wig-like hair?

Season one took on a new approach to the high school drama by viewing it through the lens of student politics. Rather than belittling the problems of modern-day teenagers, The Politician showed just how stressful fulfilling dreams can be, as well as portraying a variety of different home lives compared to the stereotypical ‘perfect’ American home. But now, the game has changed. Payton is in New York – and he’s running against the much loved senator Standish (Judith Light). His campaign? Climate change, climate change and… climate change.

But he’ll swear he’s not a one idea candidate, so let’s take his word for it.

Platt is just as amazing as expected this season – transforming Payton from the teenager with big dreams to the man determined to see them through, (in the words of the Avengers) whatever it takes. Emphasis on whatever. Because for a show that might just seem like another young adult drama, it actually deals with a lot of moral questions about politics. If you have gossip about your opposition that you know could break their campaign, would you reveal it? Would you follow the lifestyle that you advertise to voters, or create a double standard because you don’t actually believe in it? It’s not often that we see someone a politician deciding the kind of ‘game’ they want to play. Whether to respect their opponents or go against what morality might dictate, to fight against them. But this season handles it with delicacy – proving it isn’t an easy decision to make, despite what the media might portray. But it is, nonetheless, a choice that makes them culpable for their actions.

It feels particularly reminiscent of what we’re seeing now in terms of activism; whether it’s Greta Thunberg and the school climate strike, or the Black Lives Matter movement

Whilst politics often closes people out – The Politician seems to invite them in. Representations of monogamous and polygamous relationships are included in the new season – and the diverse background of Payton’s campaign group contrasts that of Standish and Hadassah Gold (Bette Midler, who is also amazing). As Payton repeatedly emphasises, this is a generational fight against those who have caused many of the socio-political/environmental problems on the planet, and those who will have to live with the consequences, and fight to change them. It feels particularly reminiscent of what we’re seeing now in terms of activism; whether it’s Greta Thunberg and the school climate strike, or the Black Lives Matter movement – people all over the world are standing up to what is wrong and unjust within society. Although part of that movement, it’s unclear whether Payton will fulfil his promises to better New York, or whether everything he does is simply for want of another term in office. He’s definitely not waving through a window anymore though.

Credit: YouTube

One of the most memorable things from last season had to be the outfits and now they’re bolder and brighter than ever. Some are so extreme they almost seem like costumes, reflecting the act both Standish and Payton put on in front of crowds. And whilst Astrid (Lucy Boynton) and Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) might dress like complete opposites, this season brings them closer together, dealing with some fairly serious plot lines that aren’t brought up often enough in cinema. Although Alice’s story is one that (annoyingly) isn’t completely wrapped by the season finale, there’s an obvious opportunity for season three. I can only hope creator Ryan Murphy decides to pick it back up, and give Alice the finale she deserves.

As Murphy has previously discussed, a third season is on the cards. And whilst Netflix is yet to commission it, I for one would love to see it. Stopping after three seasons would finish The Politician on a good note (if there is such a thing in politics anyway) and they wouldn’t be pulling for plot points. Any more than that and the show would loose its appeal.

And one final note, for the Dear Evan Hansen fans among us… yes. There is a reference to For Forever – but you’ll have to watch the show to find that one. Catch up with The Politician on Netflix.

Featured image credit: Netflix on YouTube

Last modified: 23rd June 2020

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