The TV series are like certain Renaissance paintings: the background of the characters in the foreground is often more fascinating. If we want to try to understand what is happening in the USA, for example, I suggest “The Politician” (the second series has just come out in Italy). The story itself is paradoxical, but there is no doubt: authors and screenwriters have used it to narrate the spectacular involution of a society. Which Donald Trump has accelerated, but of which he is not the only – and not even the main – responsible.
“The Politician” tells the story of young Payton Hobart, obsessed with politics since adolescence. Released from a wealthy and dysfunctional family – the mother is played by Gwyneth Paltrow – the boy decides he wants to become president of the United States of America. He arrives at St Sebastian High Schhol in Santa Monica, California, and begins to weave absurd plots to win elections and win school posts. Together with his friends and allies, a group of smiling fanatics, full of drastic principles and without moral scruples. Betrayals, lies, drugs, sexual blackmail and fake disabilities are allowed; but woe if someone speaks well of plastic or disrespects a minority!
The second series takes place on the East Coast. Payton, pushed by his picaresque group, decides to point to the New York State Senate, and collides with the elderly, unscrupulous senator in charge, assisted by a very bad chief of staff. They happen in all colors, and this time it is American politics that shows itself in all its inefficient cynicism. Being involved in threesomes first becomes a terrible secret, then a propaganda tool: it depends on what the polls reveal.
The story is surreal, but the list of excesses that are putting the United States in trouble is all there: the belief that becomes fanaticism, intolerance for unwelcome opinions, the vulnerable intransigence of young women, the aggressiveness of some minorities , the social dictatorship and the ferocious naivety of public opinion, the cynicism of the old politics and the mental confusion of the new politics, the exploitation of sex.
“The Politician” is worth looking at. You will think: where are the Americans going? That we don’t know is not so important. The serious thing is that they don’t know it either.
(from Corriere della Sera)