Review | The Politician season two tackles more than politics

The second season of the Netflix original series, The Politician, throws viewers into a deep dive of a world very much unlike ours, but almost equally as chaotic.


Illustration by Katina Zentz

Megan Conroy, Arts Reporter

Warning, this article contains spoilers.

The second season of The Politician is outlandish and packed with wild political antics, including a character taking a shower (in public) in freezing water to raise awareness for climate change and a secret polyamorous “throuple”.

Season two opens where season one left off, with Payton Hobart (played by Ben Platt) seeking political redemption through the New York Senate race. He stands off against Dede Standish (played by Judith Light), the long-time incumbent with a cult-like following.

Payton’s high school friend group returns to run the campaign. The group — which is just as much of a ticking time bomb as it was the first season — attempts to win an election that is basically unwinnable. The one missing from the group, River (played by David Corenswet), still represents Payton’s conscience as he navigates difficult decisions and an identity crisis throughout the race.

Payton’s campaign includes a few real-world issues that our society faces. He runs his campaign solely on the issue of climate change and even takes freezing cold showers publicly in the middle of New York City to show his dedication to the cause. The Hobart campaign really homes in on the importance of young voters, as well as demographics who may have never voted before.

The Standish campaign holds the “secret” throuple of ten years, a polyamorous relationship between Dede, her husband, and a man named Marcus. The campaign manager, Hadassah Gold (played by Bette Midler), runs the campaign for the race they have always won by default, in a chaotic and slightly comedic fashion.

Along with the race for a New York Senate seat in Albany is the race for Governor of California. Payton’s mom, Georgina (played by Gwenyth Paltrow), is running for governor on the idea that California should be its own plastic-banning country. If this wasn’t scandalous enough, Mrs. Hobart involves herself in an affair with a Texan senator, Tino Mccutchen (played by Sam Jaeger), who is planning to run for president.

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In the same fashion as the first season, The Politician’s storyline is a bit outrageous. Typically, these events are not ones the viewer would find in their real lives, or in the lives of anyone they know. The outside-of-the-box-like stories provide a sense of escapism for the viewer, which is especially beneficial when reality becomes too heavy.

Although the show portrays outlandish plots, there are aspects of the characters that average human beings can relate to.

In the midst of political chaos full of scandals and backstabbing staff members, Payton experiences an identity crisis. He doesn’t want to be the politician who plays dirty or lies his way to the top.

One notable identity crisis scene takes place when Payton speaks to River, his late sort of ex-boyfriend, who acts as his conscience. Another involves his mother when he feels as though her campaign is stealing the attention from his. But in reality, Payton wasn’t being his true self in his own campaign.

While a political epiphany isn’t immensely relatable to the viewer, most people can understand an identity crisis of some sort in their teens and twenties when they’re trying to decide who they want to be. Similarly, Payton’s girlfriend Alice (played by Julia Schlaepfer) experiences a drastic change in her life when she realizes she’s pregnant. She feels as though her life has always revolved around Payton’s goals and dreams, and never hers.

The second season of The Politician is chaotic and a tad outrageous, but the viewer can find a piece of themselves in the identities of the characters. In the end, The Politician details wild antics within political campaigns, but through them, dives into the humanistic trouble of what it means to be a good person.