Political Animals, a six-part television mini-series created and written by Greg Berlanti with Lawrence Mark ’71 as an executive producer, premiered on USA Network on July 15. Sigourney Weaver stars as Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former first lady divorced from the ex-U.S. president who becomes secretary of state after losing the presidential nomination to a younger, less experienced male candidate. The series follows Elaine’s political success in her new job and touches upon her desire to run for the presidency again, but it also revolves around her family relations.
In an article in The New York Times, Amy Chozick notes that creator Greg Berlanti donated to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. But “although he found initial inspiration in Mrs. Clinton, the fictional family drama that engulfs the Hammonds interested him more than poll numbers, policy and, well, reality. This is, after all, Hollywood.”
“ ‘It’s politics as theater,” [says] Laurence Mark … ‘There’s a stage, and then there’s backstage.’ ”
In his positive review in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd calls Political Animals “an unusually ambitious production from the home of Monk, Psych and Royal Pains. … this is a family drama, a high-class, relatively naturalistic, behind-closed-doors soap opera that plays in fairly obvious yet also fairly affecting ways with the space between public face and private pain and is made highly watchable by an excellent cast that finds the human among the hokum.”
And Rob Brunner in his Entertainment Weekly review writes: “What’s it like working for the man who snatched away the Commander-in-Chief job she thought was hers to lose? This six-part miniseries … tries to imagine some answers, and the result is a well-acted, entertainingly soapy drama that might not crack the Clinton code definitively but still offers a fun and credible look at the complicated intersection of love, gender, and politics.”