According to Platt, the “headstrong and somewhat egomaniacal” Payton begins to show cracks in his shiny veneer when he suspects he may not clinch the majority of votes. And though The Politician is no musical à la Glee, the Tony-winning Broadway star (Dear Evan Hansen) does sing. “The few instances are true to life,” the actor says, and don’t feel “wedged in there.”
Georgina Hobart (Gwyneth Paltrow)
One person who grounds the often erratic Payton is his adoptive mother, Georgina, whose unwavering love and support, Platt says, are “the ultimate furnace that is fueling Payton’s need to be significant.” She and wealthy husband Keaton (Bob Balaban) also have two adult biological sons, Martin and Luther (Trey and Trevor Eason), who despise Payton.
Dusty Jackson (Jessica Lange)
“She went to Hollywood aspiring to be Vanna White,” Lange says of the sharp-tongued, quick-tempered local. But Dusty’s number (letter?) did not come up, so to fit in with her well-to-do neighbors, she uses granddaughter Infinity’s illness to get free stuff, like meals at the Olive Garden. “It’s inherently weird and bizarre,” adds the actress.
Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton)
Saint Sebastian’s resident mean girl, Astrid — who dates Payton’s best friend, River (David Corenswet) — becomes the aspiring POTUS’s rival early on. Teases Boynton: “The events that happen at the very beginning of the series shake her awake and force her to look into what she actually stands for.”
Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch)
Payton aims to nab some sympathy votes with his choice of running mate: supposedly cancer-stricken classmate Infinity, whose illness may have been manufactured by her opportunistic grandmother, Dusty (Jessica Lange). According to Deutch, the relatives have a “messy” relationship that’s “loving, in its own [screwed-up] way.”
Teen Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) has but a simple dream: to one day occupy the Oval Office on The Politician. And he sincerely believes the first step to getting there is winning the student body presidential election at California’s posh Saint Sebastian High School.
This drama with dark comedic elements — created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) and collaborators Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan — lays out Payton’s desperate measures to stay on track. Let’s meet the aspirational teen and the friends (and enemies) in his orbit.