In ‘Political Animals,’ why must the ex-president hail from North Carolina?


Sigourney Weaver as former first lady and Secretary of State Elaine Barrish in “Political Animals.” (David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

(Why does the “sugar” spouting ex-president have to hail from North Carolina? Hasn’t my home state had enough with John Edwards?)

Weaver manages to keep a straight face – give her credit for that. Makers of the USA miniseries that kicked off on Sunday play politics as soap opera, when the real thing is so much soapier.

So while it’s all dressed up in Washington references and in-your-face parallels to Bill and Hillary Clinton, “Animals” barely strays from the conventions of the genre.

The change in tone is enough to give a viewer whiplash, switching from diplomatic incident to drug-fueled hook-ups with strangers.


Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish and Carla Gugino as blackmailing columnist Susan Berg. (USA Network/DAVID GIESBRECHT/USA NETWORK)

The high-achieving Asian fiancée is secretly bulimic, journalists are unethical, women are different brands of the b-word and go goofy around guys (especially bad guys), the drug dealer is black and wears a turned-around baseball cap, the Russian leader is lecherous and looks good in a robe, and so on.

With Sigourney Weaver’s Elaine Barrish as a superwoman who will rise again despite every obstacle, the character might be wish fulfillment for those who want Hillary Clinton to follow the blueprint. But I vote for Weaver going full Ripley and tossing some senator out of a spaceship. Now that would be surprising.


Mary C. Curtis is an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C. She has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

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