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It’s been a while since Ryan Murphy had a little fun, hasn’t it? After spending the past few years on very worthy but decidedly serious fare like The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Pose, he’s now firmly back in Glee territory with The Politician — premiering this Friday on Netflix; I’ve seen five of the eight episodes — a lighthearted satire that combines Murphy’s signature acid-tongued wit with a quirky refinement that recalls the films of Wes Anderson. In fact, if you can imagine Anderson’s Rushmore remade by Murphy, with a bit of Election sprinkled in for good measure, you get a pretty solid idea of what to expect from The Politician… and the result is one of the most entertaining new shows of the fall.
It’s a deeply cynical, ridiculously heightened take on the focus-group nightmare that is our current political reality — both Payton and his opponent employ full-time campaign advisors and pollsters — and it takes a few stinging swipes at excessively “woke” culture along the way. (At one point, Payton raises money to hire a “harassment czar” at his school.) How much you enjoy all of this will depend on your appetite for the usual Ryan Murphy antics, and a certain subplot I won’t reveal feels like an unnecessary dollop of frosting on an already frosted cake. But the all-at-once Netflix format allows The Politician to take some interesting side routes, too, like an episode told from the perspective of a lone undecided voter at school who’s constantly being hounded about who he’s supporting.
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