I was given the opportunity to sit down with one of the series’ wonderful cast members. So I asked a few questions about what she thinks American Horror Story showrunner Ryan Murphy’s newest offering has in store for us.
First thing’s first, if you still haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:
The show centres around Payton Hobart (Ben Platt). But wait, there’s more.
Payton’s a wildly ambitious Californian college student who is hellbent on realising his dream of becoming the President of the United States one step at a time; the first of those steps being running for Student Body President. I won’t elaborate too much on what Zoey’s character Infinity gets up to, but her journey is tightly intertwined with that of Hobart’s.
Commenting on how this new role differs from any she’s had before, Zoey said:
“It was so interesting to explore because [the character] doesn’t necessarily have a naivety, rather, she’s ‘purposefully lacking awareness’ – which I think can be positive. Because I think she’s very bright, just a victim of her circumstances. She’s never been allowed to join her fellow adolescents in their journey in growing up, she’s been isolated. That was very interesting and different for me.”
Season two has already been confirmed, with at least four (possibly six) expected in total. Murphy plans to replicate the anthological style of his other shows, allowing the supporting cast and setting to change each season. These will likely follow Hobart’s life journey in stages as he edges his way closer to the U.S. presidency.
A vast amount of finer details have been kept tightly under wraps, although the shows covers a multitude of subjects. Speaking about which ones she thought were the most interesting, challenging, and enjoyable to confront, Zoey said:
“I’m not sure I can pinpoint one necessarily that I connected to more than the other because they all feel very personal and topical and equally important. Those topics being gun control, voter fraud, sexuality, gender, all things that I find extraordinarily important to discuss yet somehow difficult,” she said.
Zoey acknowledges that it can be tricky combating such hard hitting content whilst maintaining the interest of the audience. As in recent years, the news has been awash with what can feel like a relentless slog of depressing and often heartbreaking headlines regarding these very topics.
“But in the show it’s presented in a digestible and almost fun way, which most of these topics are never ‘fun to talk about’. But I think that’s what comes with the territory of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan (the creators of the show) which is that they’ve never – at least from my perspective, as a fan of theirs growing up – skimmed the surface.
“They always try to find something deeper and be extraordinarily brave about it, and I think this is no exception.”
Zoey explained that although the show mirrors current events in the United States, there were parallels drawn that she didn’t expect:
“It’s certainly wrapped and tied up in a very satirical, fun, pulpy, poppy way. But the interesting thing for me was going on this press tour for in both Brazil and England. A lot of journalists have conveyed they feel the way in which the show is portraying American politics – particularly the stuff it’s poking fun at – feels very topical for their countries as well. I never would have known had I not been travelling, doing press for this, which I think is really interesting.”
Besides the unexpected universality, there’s a feeling that the way in which the main themes are handled (in a fun way) is equally as important:
“I think comedy is the great human connector. It is one of the reasons why when things are a bit tough, we turn to comedians, to brighten. To bring light in the dark. So I think being able to discuss difficult things with an intelligent and respectful sense of humour is actually where you can affect change. Where people will continue to listen rather than tune out, because it’s a language we all speak.”
As fans of AHS (American Horror Story, for the uninitiated), True Crime Story, or even Glee, will know, any show involving Ryan Murphy will stylistically be on point. Zoey noted the comparison between AHS and The Politician, saying, “Well I read yesterday that it’s the most ‘Ryan Murphy-est’ show that there’s ever been. So take that as you will!”.
What audiences have seen so far from the trailers, is, admittedly, very little. They give away just the right amount to pique an interest but not reveal underlying character motivations. As for any surprises, Zoey elaborated:
“I think the thing you expect with [Ryan Murphy’s] shows is that you know to expect the unexpected. With every aspect of the show there’s a lot of subtext as to what he’s trying to say.”
As far as the cast goes, there’s a real slew of veteran icons including Bette Midler and the irrepressible Jessica Lange. Zoey described the latter as a “global institution, an extraordinary person and artist, and now I can say friend” before jokingly admitting that’s all she ever wanted.
Zoey also got to work with Gwyneth Paltrow, who she shares one scene with (in a green-room, exciting stuff). She said she has a lot of respect for someone who, despite being as well known as Paltrow is, can still make someone feel completely at ease:
“I imagine it would be difficult to have had such a long and amazing career and yet always ensure that you’re making other people feel comfortable.
(Here there was a break in the conversation as Zoey pointed out that I’d accidentally placed my coffee cup onto my spoon and that she didn’t want it to spill on me. Extremely sweet of her.)
“She’s somebody that immediately made me feel comfortable, and I don’t think that’s an easy feat. I think it requires a lot of empathy and a lot of consciousness. She was so wonderful and even though it was one scene I loved meeting her and spending time with her.”
Despite being literally called The Politician, Zoey said that even if you’re not a fan of politics, the show still has plenty to offer:
“Even if you don’t give a bleep about politics, guess what!? There’s tons of stuff for you too! And that’s great, there’s cooler clothes than I’ve ever seen in my life, there’s music that’ll make you weep your eyes out, there’s drama and relationships; romantic relationships you wouldn’t expect. There’s all the stuff you get with a fun, soapy, vibrant show, but with a lot of meaningful subtext.”
So to sum up: “You got music, you got good clothes, you got Jessica Lange!”
What more could anyone want?
You can catch it on Netflix from Friday the 27th of September.
Images via Netflix/The Politician
Sophie Kimberley is a journalism and politics student whose fantastic hair is one of perhaps maybe three things she's got going for her. Aside from writing for The Hook, Sophie can be found photographing any animal that stays still long enough, wearing hideous floral printed shirts, tending to her nine houseplants, and suffering due to the antics of Arsenal FC.Follow