If you’re a big fan of movies / series featuring real characters that you might be looking for because their flaws seem so familiar in the real world, then you’re probably a big fan of Ryan Murphy, one of the co-creators of Glee, American Crime Story, American Horror Story, Pose and his last show, The politician.
In its second season, the show focuses on Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a New Yorker who is running for the New York State Senate against favorite and titular Dede Standish (Judith Light).
The series takes place three years after the fall of Hobart’s dreams: he became president of the student body because his opponent retired from the race, he did not enter Harvard and he lost his sense of goal by spending every night in New York singing and getting drunk on a bar.
When her campaign manager at McAffee High School (Laura Dreyfuss) realizes that Standish works without opposition, she convinces Hobart and her high school campaign team and her rivals to race against Standish.
As you probably know, this is a political satire, in which candidates are known to do everything to get what they want. The second season of the show follows the same idea as the first in this area. This time Payton wants to win a seat in the New York State Senate. The show’s co-creators don’t stop there. They also co-created a one-of-a-kind antagonist in Standish, a majority leader of the New York State Senate who is in a group (a three-way relationship). The show manages to raise questions from the first episode: who will win the election? How will the campaign of the two candidates go?
While the quarrel between the two politicians seems interesting, what is so good about the series is the exploration of authenticity. Hobart and Standish both experience the obstacle of being their most authentic selves. While Hobart claims that he is a politician with no authenticity, Standish cannot reveal that she is in a threesome relationship as this could destroy her political career.
This story may not be new because Murphy characters tend to struggle with their identity. Rachel Berry in Joy is hated because of her desire for fame. In Pose, although a proud transgender, Blanca cannot speak to her family about her diagnosis of HIV. But among all of Murphy’s shows, The politician is probably his most blatant guide on how to find our most authentic self, demonstrated by recurring dialogues and narrative exhibitions in the plots through various subjects: sexual fluidity, life goals and campaigns.
Being authentic is more important than ever these days. It is very easy to imitate your teachers, mentors or others. What is not easy is to be who you really are as much as possible, because we have to be aware of morality and ethics.
As Georgina Hobart said, “Ethics are the rules that a social system provides us with, and morality is the principles by which we govern ourselves.”
Obviously, ethics will always tell our subconscious to do everything according to what the majority of people believe. This is why, according to Hobart, making climate change a campaign story is the best way to win even if he is not really an environmental activist.
As for Standish, revealing to the public that it is three-way can empower women over the age of 45 because they are not often perceived to be sexually independent. But before making the announcement, she is constantly worried about what people might think of her. A sexual monster who is not satisfied with a monogamous relationship?
Hobart also has trouble finding out what kind of politician he is. The truth is that Standish is a polyamorous woman and Hobart is the kind of politician who really wants to win at all costs. When they are proud of their own identity, then they stand out more.
Their difficulties reflect our own inner questions: do we have to cheat on an exam to get a perfect biology score in class? Should we feel comfortable with someone that our peers hate even if we love them? Can we really be ourselves despite the fact that there are costs in every choice we make? The politician explore these questions without judgment.
We believe that a path will always be morally right. Whether this creates a bad impact on society is a whole different discussion. Often, we compromise because of collective values or societal norms that are etched in our brains as if we had no choice. But the truth is that we always have the choice to be ourselves. It may mean that we are not conforming to society, but as long as we calculate the costs and consequences, it should be OK because as responsible adults, we should be able to make any decisions for ourselves, including showing who we really are.
It is only when we are comfortable being fully authentic that we can be more productive. We will not spend too much time thinking about what other people think about our insecurities, our faults or our sexuality, because we could update ourselves.
The politician can be a fun and entertaining series that you can watch at once, but if you take a moment to think about it, it teaches depth in the simplest way possible. (kes)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Jakarta Post.