I finally found something worthwhile to watch during the summer television slump … until the Olympics start anyway.
What I found is USA’s Political Animals starring Sigourney Weaver and Ciaran Hinds. A six part miniseries that, if it does well enough, apparently might be extended, the series focuses on Weaver’s character – Elaine Barrish Hammond – as she works as Secretary of State for a President who defeated her and deals with an ex-President ex-husband (Hinds).
The similarities to the Clintons seemed extreme when I first heard about the show and even as I started watching the first episode; the cheating spouse who happens to be President, the wife who stands by her husband in the face of public scrutiny over his infidelities, the wife who goes on to make a name for herself in a campaign and an administration.
But this isn’t the Clintons. It’s more of a tightly packed glimpse of the lives of every First Family and what they have to go through.
There’s a journalist who bribes her way close to Elaine by blackmailing her with the hospital report about one of her sons (a gay, drug addict) who attempted suicide. The journalist, unfortunately, has a boyfriend/editor more interested in the bottom line of his paper than staying true to his girlfriend.
The other Hammond son is his mother’s chief of staff and has a weary fiancee with an eating disorder she’s carefully hiding.
All the while, Elaine and her ex-husband engage in a delicate dance somewhere between love and … I’m not quite sure what yet but I do know that it is fascinating to watch.
Weaver plays Elaine a little too perfect at times, but that’s sort of what I’d expect from a politician in the position Elaine has – for better or worse. At other times, she plays her perfectly.
Hinds is excellent as a schmoozing, silky ex-President who should be despised but is widely loved.
There are five episodes left and, if you can find it, check out the first episode and think about watching the rest. I’ll be watching.