After writing my past two posts regarding the Emmy Awards, I decided to make a determined effort to see as many of the nominees in the miniseries/movie categories. In order to try to be fair to my mom who I’m sure will want to watch some of the HBO nominees with me, I decided to follow up on Top of the Lake with Political Animals, a USA miniseries which is nominated for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Sigourney Weaver), and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Unfortunately, I only managed to watch the first ten minutes before I quit. Here’s why:
- The pilot opens with real-life NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell setting up the story of the Hammond-Barrish family. Immediately, I was a bit bothered hearing the very dramatized style in which they wrote Mitchell’s dialogue, which basically struck me as inauthentic of journalism. However, this is a small annoyance I could easily look past.
- Mitchell is followed by another journalist on-the-scene who narrates the entrances of the Hammond family at a political rally following mother Elaine Barrish’s (Sigourney Weaver) loss in a primary election. The actors here are almost all familiar faces (Bob Benson! Aberforth Dumbledore!), sparking my interest in the series. However, this interest was quickly diminished when the journalist narrating the scene introduced Barrish’s son T.J. by saying, “everyone kept waiting for his homosexuality to be an issue, but, nope, it never was.” Um, okay, there wasn’t a better way to say that? Whatever.
- Here we also find out that Bud Hammond, Elaine’s husband, is a former U.S. President of immense popularity. Looks like we’re making a Clinton comparison here, which will be solidified momentarily. (Also, why would a president ever be named Bud?)
- After the whole family has taken the stage, Barrish gives a speech supporting an opposing candidate, and the family exits together, Barrish’s smile noticeably vanishing when her husband stops to talk to an attractive female supporter wearing a revealing top. The female asks the former president to sign her pin, which, of course, is placed in a rather intimate spot. Bud takes the deal gladly. Let’s call that Clinton comparison number two.
- Now the family is together in a large room, and this is where I really start to be disgusted. Within an absurdly short time period, we hear Bud refer the the situation as “horse shit,” Elaine’s mother (played by Ellen Burstyn) is reassured about her looks by the gay grandson, at which point she says, “oh, all you homos love me.” Then Bud says, “What retard thinks that I-talian shit show (something about the opposing candidate),” and then goes to to refer to said opposing candidate as a “douche.” Oh, also, Elaine immediately whips out a cigarette when she enters this room. Clearly, the writers were going for some shock-and-awe, but honestly? The Hammonds are Democrats, AKA the party known to support marriage equality and immigration. So is it really likely that they (or any politician with a brain) would refer to people as “homos” or “retards”?
- Here we also notice Bud’s Deep Southern accent, and Elaine complains about her obviously lower popularity with Americans in comparison with her husband (Clinton references three and four). Bud “reassures” her by saying that he left office with an 84% approval rating, making him “the most popular Democrat since Kennedy had his brains splattered across the Dallas concrete.” Again with the offensive language, and also, when has a president EVER had an approval rating that high? Somehow this argument ends, at which point Elaine tells Bud she wants a divorce. Okay, great.
- Flash forward two years, where we find ourselves in the middle of an interview between now Secretary of State Elaine and journalist Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) who won a Pulitzer Prize for a story she wrote about an adultery scandal during Bud’s presidency (Clinton moment five). I’m not even really sure what was being said during the interview, except that the snark was flying. Everyone loves catty women, right?
- At this point, my finger was hovering over the stop button, but the moment that really sent me over the edge came during a flashback to Elaine introducing that “I-talian” opposing candidate at a rally two years previously. The introduction was fine, Elaine dancing with said candidate was NOT. I was so mortified by this moment that I actually said, “okay, STOP” before taking my own advice and exiting the show.
So, unless someone can really prove to me that this show improves substantially from what I watched, I think I’ll be moving onto a different project. So far, Top of the Lake is still my top pick for the miniseries/movie categories at the Emmys.