Political Animals: Why haven't I heard about this show? Any good? (Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Burstyn)

While browsing my DTV programming guide, I just stumbled on this 6-part mini-series that premiered on Sunday, but is airing again tonight on USA, 11pm Eastern time.

It’s supposedly some sort of Hillary Clinton-esque alternate history, with Sigourney Weaver as the main character, and Ellen Burstyn playing her mother. Those two names alone are enough to make me at least give it a chance - and also make me surprised that I haven’t heard about it, either from commercials, or discussions here and elsewhere.

Here’s a quick synopsis with what seem like very minor basic-plot spoilers:

[spoiler]Political Animals is the story of Elaine Barrish, former First Lady of a popular two-term President (the most popular “since Kennedy”) with a southern accent and a penchant for the ladies and affairs. She loses a close campaign for the nomination for President to a young, well-spoken, dynamic opponent. So far, the history is not alternate but all but identical to Hillary and Bill’s. But on the night she concedes to her opponent, the divergence from our real world begins: Elaine wants and gets a divorce from her philandering husband.

So the excellent set-up for this series is: what would have happened had Hillary left Bill after conceding the nomination to Barack Obama in 2008? One highly significant development stays the same: President Garcetti (played by Adrian Pasdar, who also played a President in one of the realities in Heroes) makes Elaine his Secretary of State. And the show if off and running.[/spoiler](link to source)

So did anyone watch Sunday, and what did you think? Anybody planning to watch tonight or DVR it?

Courtesy bump for anybody who didn’t see this thread before, since it’s about to start.

It wasn’t bad. Though a little rough around the edges, it’s certainly better than almost anything else that’s ever appeared originally on the USA channel. It seems like it’s definitely geared mostly towards the fairer sex, though not in a blatant and intolerable way.

Maybe that’s why I never heard about it - if all the commercials for it were on the Lifetime channel and during airings of The View. :smiley:

[/talking to myself]

It rarely happens that I catch a show that I intended to watch, but this time I did. I didn’t care for it at first–obligatory and repetitive exposition of every character’s flaw to set up future plot turns, no doubt, made it feel more like a soap opera–but once it got past that and into the guts of the story, I got pulled into it. Both the story and the characters kept catching me off guard and surprising me, and held my interest.

I got a kick out of the parallels between Sigourney Weaver’s Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton. When Sigourney makes a decisive statement about her future, you can’t help but wonder if it applies to Hillary as well. And the (professional) relationship between Sigourney and the newspaper reporter looks promising.

It wasn’t perfect, but overall, I was glad I saw it and I’m looking forward to the next episode.

Yeah, I agree with all that. I, too, was fearing the worst at the beginning, and was thinking “soap-opera” as well. But it pulled out of it, and started to redeem itself after they got all the exposition out of the way.

So, if anyone starts watching it, and is tempted to bail out on it early, hang in there and give it a chance.

I’ve got it saved but haven’t watched it yet so the info here makes it much more likely to make it to the “watched” pile.


I liked the first one and am excited about the rest. I like that it’s a mini-series. Something with an ending would be nice. Oh BTW voltaire, Pasdar played only a senator in Heroes, but in a glimpse of the future he was president, but it turned out that he was controlled by Sylar. But powerful political persona is definitely in his ‘wheelhouse’ :slight_smile:

I find it funny that Sebastian Stan is playing (so far) the exact same character from Kings a short lived show from a few years ago, where he was the disappointing gay son of a powerful family.

I too have high hopes for Carla Gugino and Sigourney Weaver to team up for a run to the presidency. But I heard from somewhere that the 2nd episode deals more with personal stuff than political. I hope the show goes more into the political stuff for my taste.

We watched and liked it a lot.
Yeah, a tad soap opera at the beginning, but I guess you have to quickly set up the characters and story lines if you have a very short, limited run series.

So far, I like the political side, and it is interesting to see the behind-the-scenes of this political family. Of course, having the first Gay son in the White House was a nice bonus but I hope they don’t turn him into just the pathetic kid spinning out of control for the entire series.

Looking forward to watching the entire series as it unfolds. Also nice to know this is a one-shot series, so no need to worry about a cliffhanger at the end and it not being renewed.

I liked it.

For the most part it is pretty fun. In the pilot, Burstyn, Weaver, and Gugino all had some very nice to somewhat awesome moments and lines. Some of the supporting characters are good. The storyline seems like it’s going to work well for a 6 episode mini-series. The guy behind it was once the guy behind (or one of the guys behind) Dirty Sexy Money and there’s a similar vibe to the way that he tells these types of nighttime soap-ish stories. It’s definitely an odd fit with the USA brand.

The one thing that isn’t working at all for me, so far, is Bud. The actor isn’t in the same tv show as the rest of the actors are, he’s playing a different room. Also, the character doesn’t make sense. He’s racist against Italians? in 2012? Huh? There are a few other traits that seem to have been added in to make him unlikable, but they’re just making the character bizarre.

I thought the exposition was badly done and awkward at first, but then as it went on it started getting funny to me. The TV broadcaster at the the rally at the beginning and Weaver and Gugino angrily saying exposition at each other were the laughable highlights for me.

I agree about Bud being weird. I’ve liked him in other stuff I’ve seen him in (though I can’t think of what right now) but in this he just seems to be doing a Foghorn Leghorn impression.

I’ll keep watching, but it’s not a must-see for me. Since it’s on the same time as Breaking Bad, I’ll be watching Breaking Bad on Sundays, and watch Political Animals whenever I get around to it in the week.

He was the Emperor of Rome!

I just watched episode 2 today (got it timed for the DVR). I love it. It may have a soap opera feel to for some, but I think the many threads – gay drug addict, bulimic girlfriend, philandering ex but excellent politician, Nana with her vodka-soaked reminiscences and tough as nails attitude, international diplomacy touching on real world issues … well there’s a lot to take in and a lot to enjoy (of course, being female, I love Sigourney’s rants about how the men in politics fuck up everything (which is true, of course) :smiley:
I was surprised at the extent of cursing, on USA yet. I had noticed some “light” cursing on The Closer (TNT), and the use of curse words in this show makes it more realistic.
I can only hope that if this four-episode show got good ratings, there might be a regular series down the line (with same characters and actors).

I’m more interested in the political side of the story, so I wasn’t as enamoured with Ep. 2 as I was with the first show. Too much of the dysfunctional family dynamics for my liking. There’s so much discord in all of the relationships that I found myself wondering how this family could still be together and operating as a family. And even the politics got more than its share of melodrama in this episode. I’ll watch the third show, but if it’s more of the same, I’ll probably lose interest in it.:frowning:

I missed the first episode, but saw numbers 2 and 3. Loved it! The Bill Clinton doppelganger is hilarious.

And I like that Sigourney Weaver is stretching his range and playing a woman for a change. He does it quite well. I almost believed that he is actually a female!

It’s watchable overall, but that old matriarch is just awful. I can see what they’re going for, and I think that that type of character can be entertaining if executed properly, but in this case everything just falls flat.

Well, the short six episode series ended.

Kept me interested, but in a soap-opera kind of way. Still, I have seen worse, and this had a few fun moments.

It hasn’t been decided if they bring it back for more seasons, but the actors all did sign multi-year contracts, just in case they do. The idea is each season would only be a self-contained six part series.

At any rate, what did the rest of you think? Worthy of another season, or should they just stop here?

I just finished episode 6 on Bluray, a damn that was good. I’m very sad that there’s no plans for a 2nd season. :frowning: