Sigourney Weaver is a skillful and watchable actress. In “Political Animals,” she needs all that and more to react to Ciaran Hinds as a president who sounds more like Foghorn Leghorn than Bill
(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.
Of course, the gay son is the troubled one, dogs are named Jack, Teddy and Bobby, an older distinguished actresses is relegated to playing cranky grandma with drink in hand, though Ellen Burstyn won an Oscar, fo
r goodness’ sake.
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, an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C., has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter: @mcurtisnc3