I should start out with an admission. I was supposed to write this post about four weeks ago. But, the more I got into the storyline of Political Animals, the more I wanted to wait until the series was over to share my thoughts. And, to put it concisely, I loved the show.
Political Animals is a six-episode “limited series event” on USA Network (read: mini-series). It focuses primarily on Secretary of State Elaine Barrish, played by the magnificent Sigourney Weaver, who also happens to be a former First Lady who divorced her former President husband shortly after losing her own run at the Democratic nomination. Former President Barrish cheated on Elaine several times while he was Governor and President; the whole thing is very Clintonesque. But I digress.
The family also includes sons Douglas, who is Elaine’s Chief of Staff and engaged to be married, and T.J., who is openly gay and struggling with addiction issues. Also ever-present is Elaine’s sassy mother (and former Vegas showgirl) Margaret. What could ever go wrong with this family?!?
(The Barrish family, with the ever-present reporter off to the left.)
Like I said, I genuinely enjoyed this show. Admittedly, I’m a HUGE Hillary fan, so the similarities between her and the main character didn’t hurt. Plus, unlike most series that stretch a story on for 12 or more episodes, this felt very succinct. Elaine is more popular than ever now that she’s Secretary of State, and she’s struggling to balance her current duties, her future political ambitions, and her family crises. It doesn’t help there’s a determined reporter at every turn, alternating between unlikely ally and threatening foe.
I appreciated that the show didn’t focus on the President, but rather a Cabinet official who may or may not harbor future political ambitions (I can’t spoil everything, you know?). Somehow, while managing to focus the story on Elaine, the creators did a good job at giving each main character their own plot, and managed to pretty much resolve them all within six episodes.