Political Animals is a show that started getting hype months ago, and I was hooked from the teasers alone. You give me Sigourney Weaver in anything and I’m already interested. You make it about the Clintons and a Hollywoodized version of politics, I’m amused and intrigued. You put Sebastian Stan in it, the battle is over. Every update I had about the miniseries got me pumped, so I was ready to watch it live. I rarely watch shows live. They say that if the miniseries does well, they’re going to consider a full show. I’m not sure what this will mean for the actors considering they all have busy work outside of the show, but if it’s contained and only airing during the summer, I think they could make it work. I want them to. I want this show to stay in my life! For now it’s supposed to be only a six part series. Spoilers below!

It stars the Hammond family, aka a thinly veiled reference to the Clintons. Sigourney Weaver is Elaine Hammond (Sigourney Weaver), a powerful intelligent woman who used to be the First Lady of the White House. Her husband Bud (Ciaran Hinds) was a popular Democrat President who caused a scandal when it was revealed he had a major affair on her. Elaine decided to stand by her man, and eventually went on to run for President herself. She lost to a handsome young man named Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar) who then asked her to be the Secretary of State. She took the job and does marvelously well at it. She finally left her husband after she lost the bid for President and he tried to make it all about himself. They have two sons, Doug (James Wolk) and TJ (Sebastian Stan). Doug is the good son who became his mother’s campaign manager and is planning his wedding. TJ is a drug addict who is treated like the family screw up because he, well, is. He is also gay and it’s implied that his struggle with being forced out in the White House did lead to his eventual tumble into partying and drugs. It couldn’t be easy to deal with that amount of coverage. Rounding out the show is the hard hitting feminist journalist Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) who broke the story about Bud’s affair. She wrote books denouncing Elaine and the family and they openly dislike each other.

But Susan is getting an one on one with Elaine, why is that? Well because she found out that TJ only a few months before had a suicide attempt. They managed to cover it over, but Susan was threatening to leak to the press if Elaine didn’t give her an exclusive interview. She keeps baiting Elaine to talk about serious issues, but she refuses. Doug has an engagement party, where his wife Ann is shown to be bulimic, and things in the family start out warm but it leads to tension. Bud’s brought his much younger and sleazy girlfriend along, and TJ begs his parents for the money to invest in a club. His father refuses because he’s a drug addict and can’t be trusted with that money. He naturally starts using again. Bud also makes a reference to his suicide attempt as a “stunt.” So. Keep being a douche, Bud. Unfortunately Susan mentions to her boss the story about TJ’s suicide and he decides to give the story to his pretty young girlfriend … thus cheating on Susan in the process. The story breaks, TJ goes missing, Elaine gives a passionate dressing down of Susan, and she turns to Bud for comfort.

In real life news, American citizens were taken hostage and Elaine wants to get them free, but the President won’t help because he needs to secure a nuclear peace treaty with Iran. Elaine is furious at him for letting this happen. She brings up the idea to Bud about him going to negotiate himself after they sleep together, and he reveals he knew it all along and that was part of why he agreed to meet her. She’s mad at him and herself but knows it’s the smart thing to do. Susan meets with Elaine and says she was cheated on too and understands now what it was about. They make a tentative peace between them. Elaine announces to her bodyguard that she plans on running for President again. Against her own boss. Dum dum duuuuuuuum!

This was the pilot and a fantastic one I think. It set up the family dynamic, what they’d gone through in the White House, and the path of Elaine to who she was before and who she is now. Sigourney Weaver owns this role and this show, although I have to say Carla Gugino brings it. Their conversations are tense and fantastic. Elaine’s breakdown when she talks about TJ’s suicide and coming out was emotional; I’ll admit I choked up a little. Ciaran Hinds has a really irritating accent. I think he’s gone way too far into cartoon accent at this point. The thing I dislike/LOVE about this character is how he’s infuriating and despicable, but he’s brilliant. I found myself agreeing with a few things he said and impressed by the sharp way his mind worked. At the same time I wanted to punch him in his face about a dozen times. So well done for him. The sons are a little more stereotypical; the perfect son who helps his mother with everything, and the screw up. TJ is still sweet and has good relationships with everyone in his family, and we all know that it’s nothing new that a person in the spotlight can end up screwed up for life. Sebastian Stan is one of my favorite young actors, so I think he’s managed to show that desperation well. The acting is great in all aspects of this show. The dialogue is sharp. The story is interesting. This premiere was a strong beginning and I couldn’t wait for the next week. Applause, Political Animals. You may be my favorite show of the summer!

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Comments
  1. David G says:

    I really like this show and you’ve now bummed me out that its a miniseries!

    Like

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