Piano, Patricide, and Politics

In a new Netflix series, Payton Hobbart (played by Ben Platt) is an overachieving, egotistical seventeen-year-old with the goal of becoming president- and he won’t let anyone stand in his way.

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Piano, Patricide, and Politics

Madelynn Preister, Reporter

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Ryan Murphy’s newest Netflix endeavor revolves around student Payton Hobbart (Ben Platt) who’s had the goal of becoming president since he was seven years old. Platt gives a moving performance throughout the first season, and as a fan of him I enjoyed hearing his familiar original songs splattered throughout the show. The Politician has more plot-twists and turnarounds than Jane the Virgin, and whether this is an act of the boredom of the writers or an attempt to interest viewers isn’t apparent. Attempted patricide, poisoning, and affairs are all things viewers will be stunned to see while watching the Politician

The plot advances slowly until the last few episodes of the show-bringing viewers to become less certain they know what the show is about, than when they first began watching. I appreciated the elegant aesthetic of the Politician, as it gave viewers a glimpse at what a higher lifestyle entails as well as the drama involved in political races. Truthfully, it was hard to grasp what the overall political message of the show even was. But I suppose the Politician is less about actual politics, and more so how politics are some deeper manifestation of an American illness. Despite the show being about Payton, I appreciated how the writers didn’t hold back from honing in on those around him including those facing prejudice (whether it be for their gender, race, or sexuality). 

One large theme creator Ryan Murphy presents time and time again throughout the Politician is that emptiness is the natural consequence of a world that asks people to erase themselves in the name of a meaningless social project. Payton struggles with finding the line between feeling nothing, and not understanding his own feelings- something nearly every teenager can relate to at some point in their adolescent life. Although the world presented in the Politician is a great contrast to what the average American high schooler can relate to, Murphy is able to allow all of us to relate to the pain of having to force down everything that makes you a little bit different. The Politician allows us to understand how much sadness happiness can bring.