The Campaign of a Lifetime

Netflix’s new comedy follows a campaign to student body president


Photo courtesy of Netflix

The Politician follows the campaign of Payton Hobart. He is trying to become student body president. The campaign gets messy on both sides and chaos ensues. Payton and his nemesis, Astrid, will do whatever it takes to win.

Elizabeth Hahn, Entertainment Editor

Netflix’s show The Politician is a dramaticized story of the path to becoming student body president. A lot goes into a campaign, including finding a running mate, choosing stand points and covering up scandals. This show dips its toes into all these and more.

It follows the possible sociopath, Payton Hobart (Ben Platt). Hobart believes he is destined to become the president of the United States and running for student body president is the first step on that journey. His team is made up of his closest friends, Alice, McAfee and James. They are with him all the way to his presidency. On the other hand, he finds a nemesis in his opponent, Astrid Sloan. The two are constantly trying to beat each other to gain the title of president.

In a campaign, it’s important to have a running mate that speaks to the people. Both Astrid and Payton know this and go to lengths to find one that will bring in the most voters. It was fascinating to see the two shuffle through people to find the perfect one. However, it was also bothersome because it was clear that they were only choosing these people to use them for more votes. Payton finds a running mate in Infinity Jackson, a girl who is suffering from cancer, while Astrid goes a different route and lands on Skye Leighton, a gender non-conforming African American girl.

One interesting aspect is that this show gives the viewer a look into how the upper class lives and how they use their money. Payton was adopted into a family of fortune. However, he wants to get what he wants without the help of money, which gives the viewer a look into who he truly is. Many of the other characters also wanted to see what it was like to be in the rich class and went to extreme lengths to get that. For example, Dusty Jackson, the grandma of Infinity, does horrible things to her granddaughter in order to get free stuff and amenities that would only be offered to the highest of classes. The contrast between the characters and how they used their money was an engaging part of the story, as it showed who was greedy and who was not.

Another great aspect was all the times Payton sang throughout the episodes. He has a beautiful voice, and it was great to hear it a few times throughout the show. His singing voice helped him find who he is and cope with all the grieving he goes through. I believe music can be like therapy, and it was nice to see this show play on this to show that music can get people through things.

It was also important that this show brought attention to depression and mental health. Payton is afraid that he is a sociopath, and his campaign is making him even worse of a person. Even if he is a sociopath, that doesn’t make him any less of a person, and his friends see that. There is this stigma today that mental illnesses make a person weak. In turn, these issues actually make the people who struggle with them even stronger, as they go through terrible times and are able to come out on top. It’s nice to see a show shining light on this stigma and showing that struggling is okay. Attention was also brought to other issues like gun safety, homophobia and more. It’s necessary that the media addresses these issues in order to bring awareness.

This show was filled with twists that made it interesting to watch every episode. There were staged scandals, actual scandals, assassination attempts, defiance, disappearances and more.  As I was watching, I didn’t know what to expect next, which made the watching experience even better. One of these twists is the episode titled “The Voter.” This takes place on election day. Payton and Astrid are attempting to bring the undecided voters to their sides. Instead of following them, though, this episode follows a new character, Elliot Beachman, a junior who really doesn’t care about the election. This episode was completely different than any other in the series. The main characters become secondary and it gives another point of view in the high school experience. The last episode also went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, which perfectly sets up the next season. All the plot twists made watching it an experience rather than just a show.

The Politician was a dramatic way to show the campaign to student body president, but it worked. There was never a dull moment in the entire series, which is what I look for in a show. It blended comedy, drama, and action in a very nice way. Also, this show made it clear that politics is a game, in which each side is doing anything they can not to lose. This can go as far as attempting to take down opponents through exposing their private lives. The Politician gets its point across and provides a riveting first season. Others should definitely take the time to watch this show, as it was intriguing from start to finish.