A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are few and far between in this comic drama, which has heightened reality and plenty of irony and is loaded with violence, unkindness.
Positive Role Models
Most characters are wealthy, white, and extremely physically attractive, though there are a couple of prominent characters who break the mold, including one who's a gender nonconforming African American. Payton and most of the others are not above duplicitous or downright evil acts.
Violence & Scariness
A character dies by suicide in a shocking scene; we hear a gun blast and then see another character with blood speckled on his clothes and face. We also hear other characters screaming and grieving over him, and see his body carried out in a body bag. A prominent character has Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder causing her to inject a relative with substances that make her appear sick.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content is frequent and mature, though we don't actually see much more than kissing. Two characters get dressed, presumably after sex, and talk about how the female character is faking sexual pleasure to give the male partner "confidence." Teen boys talk about "bagging" a girl and discuss her abundant pubic hair. A girl whose boyfriend is having another relationship with a fellow boy invites both over to her house for group sex: "Let's all get it on." Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, but no nudity or characters having sex in front of the camera.
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Language is infrequent but can be rude. Boys talk about a girl who has a "full bush," a character is called a "bastard." One character apparently called another a "f-g" in the past, and a character insults another by telling him to "Eat a fat one."
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Products & Purchases
Characters are wealthy and the trappings are everywhere: giant houses, luxury cars. A character trying to point out how rich another's family is says, "Your family has several lesser Picassos in the housekeeper's room and Annie Leibowitz took your family's Christmas photo last year."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Politician is a comic drama about dark dealings -- many involving student government -- at a wealthy California private high school. The show starts with a trigger warning: "For those who struggle with their mental health, some elements may be disturbing." The warning is apt, because a character unexpectedly commits suicide shortly after the show starts: We hear a gunshot and see another character with a bloody face and shirt, and then see a body in a body bag with a woman screaming. Another plot point revolves around a character with Munchausen syndrome by proxy who's poisoning a relative who believes she's actually ill. Sexual content is also mature, though all we see is same- and opposite-sex kissing. There's talk of group sex, body parts, consequence-free casual sex, and a girl faking sexual pleasure to give a boy "confidence." Language can be insulting and rude: A boy is called a "f-g," and a character is told to "Eat a fat one." An adult character smokes cigarettes. Many characters are wealthy (we see their fancy houses and luxury cars), and most are white, though there's at least one African American character who's also gender nonconforming -- she doesn't have a big part, though. Positive messages are few and far between, and most characters treat each other with something between condescension and contempt.
Is It Any Good?
This interesting artifact from the fertile mind of Ryan Murphy bears a lot of his hallmarks -- it isn't his best, but it has enough good soapy twists to pull viewers in anyway. With its scheming high schoolers intent on drama, the Murphy joint it most closely resembles is Glee, though The Politician's maneuverings are several shades darker: The Glee kids just wanted to pull it out at regionals, and there was no (spoiler alert! Beware!) suicide, sexual blackmail, or monstrous family members slowly murdering their loved ones.
Speaking of that last plot hook, it appears as though Murphy and fellow showrunners Brad Falchuk (Glee, Pose, American Horror Story) and Ian Brennan (Glee, Scream Queens) saw The Act, because Infinity and Dusty Jackson (Jessica Lange) are clearly a riff on Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee. The actors playing high schoolers are too old -- principals' ages range from 24 to 32 -- and there are so many different characters and schemes going that the whole story is a bit of a mess. Nonetheless, it's as smart and unpredictable as the best of Murphy's work, the cast is absolutely stellar, the story setup is weird and unique, and watching is a lot of fun. This isn't high art, but you may as well say goodbye to a few days when you start watching, because you'll be responding to that judgmental "Are you still watching ...?" Netflix button a few times before you can tear yourself away.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.