FTTV Reviews...Political Animals 1.02 "Second Time Around"


Picking up on its premiere's momentum, the new political savvy drama from USA makes its official statement: this is going to have a lot drama and this is not for the young ones. Political Animals is blurring the line between reality and fiction with some familiar plot points.

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect (no pun intended!) does anyone else feel like Bud and Elaine mirror former President and First Lady Bill and Hilary Clinton? He even said one of Clinton's most famous lines: "I did not have sex with (insert lover's name here)". With the exception of course of Sebastian Stan's T.J Hammond. Chelsea Clinton was never that interesting.

This week we follow Bud (and Susan) to Turkey so he can negotiate the release of the three American journalists that were wrongfully accused by Iran officials. Elaine's risky plan works and Bud comes back successful and with a better approval rating than he has had since he left the White House.

Doug on the other hand spends the entire episode either at ends with his brother's (who happens to be three minutes older... I didn't even know they were twins...) addiction and his mother's plans to run for president again. I do love James Wolk and right now the only thing I love about his character are his good looks. He's definitely the Chelsea Clinton of the family. He needs something to spice up his character. Personally, I think an affair with Susan Berg could make things interesting. Take note, writers. Besides, what I dislike more than his usual dullness is who he's engaged to.

T.J on the other hand is as messed up as ever and Stan plays his character perfectly. I find myself rooting for the addict even though I know I shouldn't. Especially since he steals a blank check from his grandmother when she's not looking. It might actually be because of his good looks though. Seriously, Bud and Elaine created some beautiful boys together. If that's all their marriage has to show for after being together for a couple of decades then I say it was worth it.

I did particularly enjoy the flashbacks we saw from Elaine's point of view from the time Bud was President. It couldn't have been easy having to deal with being married to that scumbag. I liked seeing a vulnerable Elaine and then jumping back into the present where she's tough as nails talking down to Pasdar's Paul Garcetti who is the President and her superior. But unfortunately, like we saw at the end, Bud is and always will be her weakness. He's her Achilles heel. And Doug knows this. That's probably why he goes to Susan to give her the scoop about his mother running for President. Again, if Doug went and had an affair with her, it would at least make his character interesting. But then there would be a big debate of whether or not he is like his father.

Political Animals is a soap opera. There's always going to be scandal going on. My biggest pet peeves of the night were the jarring lens flares (thank you Saving Hope for making me more aware of them in everything I watch... That's not a good thing by the way...). But unlike the NBC medical drama that uses it in every frame, Political Animals thankfully reserved them strictly for flashback scenes. I can live with that.

A highlight of the night was, as always, Ellen Burstyn as Elaine's alcoholic mother. And she sang in this episode! Beautifully I might add. But her shining moment was opposite Stan when she confronts her grandson about stealing from her and tells him about his addict grandfather who was found dead of an overdose. "I know your story," she tells him, "and I know how it ends."

And did anyone catch Ugly Betty's Eric Mabius and his ridiculous hair? Betty would not approve, Mr. Meade! Regardless, it's always fun to see Eric on my television. Even if it's with bad hair.

According to next week's promo, we have more drama coming. I'm looking forward to Elaine finding out about Doug's betrayal but more than that I'm looking forward to him confronting Susan about telling his mom. I keep seeing Political Animals announced as a "limited engagement" but I'm hearing talks of a potential season two. It will be interesting to see Elaine's road to the White House. And it's very clear that Susan is going to be at her side every step of the way. The two are quickly becoming one of my favorite onscreen "frenemies".

Do you think Political Animals has the potential to have longevity? Are you looking forward to the family drama that is going to unfold for Elaine and her family as the season progresses? Let us know either in the comments below, or tweet us @FilmThrasher or @Lilah86 on Twitter!