USA’s six episode mini-series “Political Animals” really should’ve been called “Sexual Animals” instead. During the series’ almost 90 minute premiere on Sunday night (July 15) the show featured a lot of sex and almost zero politics.
For those viewers, like me, who tuned into “Political Animals” hoping for a thrilling political drama ala “The West Wing” they were likely completely disappointed and maybe even a little horrified to find that “Political Animals” is really just a soap opera in which its characters are politicians.
If the premiere of the mini-series is any example of what’s to come than I really wouldn’t expect the series to delve too deeply in political topics, which kind of seems to make the entire series a sham. You don’t have to know a damn thing about politics (or really have any interest in them) to watch “Political Animals”. The mini-series really seems written for people who think they are smart enough to follow politics, but find scripts to smart shows like “The West Wing” or “The Newsroom” too confusing or boring. Many are comparing the series to TNT’s re-boot of “Dallas” (which I have not seen), but can imagine is just romantic tripe based on previews.
“Political Animals” follows the career of Secretary of State and former First Lady of the United States and Presidential candidate Elaine Barrish, played by Sigourney Weaver, who is obviously inspired by the real life story and experiences of current U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Upon losing the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, at the premiere’s beginning, Barrish tells her husband, former President Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds), that she wants a divorce after years of him cheating on her (in an obvious parallel to Bill Clinton). The premiere then jumps forward a couple of years to when Barrish is the Secretary of State.
Many are hailing the series for its positive portrayal of a strong woman political leader, but based on the fact that we really don’t see Barrish involved in many political issues (at least in the first installment) it all seems like a bunch of hogwash. Yes, Barrish is one tough cookie, but to prove it show us her doing more political things and less hooking up with her slutty ex-husband.
The supporting cast of “Political Animals” features the talented James Wolk, as Barrish’s oldest son and Chief of Staff, Carla Gugino, as a Washington Globe reporter following the Hammond family, Sebastian Stan, as Barrish’s openly gay son and a drug addict, Ellen Burstyn, as Barrish’s tough mother (who has little to do in the premiere), and Adrian Pasdar as President Paul Garcetti. There is no doubt that the cast is talented and capable of putting together a good series, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be given the opportunity to shine given this script and its rather laughable plotlines and dialogue.
“Political Animals” is mostly disappointing because despite having the word ‘political’ in its title it hardly seems to be about politics. I want way more Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”, “The Newsroom”) in my political series and way less daytime soap opera.
“Political Animals” can be seen locally on Conway Corp. Channel 3 on Sundays at 9 p.m.