Political Animals' Finale Left Us With More Questions Than Answers

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Political Animals S01E06: “Resignation Day”

Elaine penned her letter of resignation and handed it off to President Garcetti who'd randomly become likable over the past few weeks. He refused her resignation and countered with an offer to have her as his vice president in the next election since VP Collier was basically a monster. Or a pragmatist. It depends on how you look at it, though he was DEFINITELY an opportunist.

In a surprising move, Elaine accepted his offer.

And then they crashed Air Force One.

Really.

If there is any lesson to take from Political Animals, I suppose it would be a reinforcement of that old adage about the best laid plans of mice and men going awry. Also, apparently America just can’t catch a break, even in the fictional wonderland where openly gay women are Supreme Court justices and getting a divorce is considered a good career move. With all the ruckus about Vice President Collier jumping the gun and trying to get himself sworn in before Garcetti’s body was even found, I was actually expecting the president to miraculously survive the wreck in France. I held on to that hope all the way until the end credits rolled; after all, Political Animals is a limited series “event,” and as such, there is no guarantee of a second season. Killing off the president just as he and Elaine had finally reached an understanding and putting the nefarious Vice President Collier in control might be a decent set up for a second season, but in the event that “Resignation Day” goes down in the books as Political Animals’ conclusion, then isn’t that... kind of depressing?

The final scene between Elaine and Bud at Doug and Annie’s elopement (another pleasant surprise) clearly set the stage for a second season revolving around Elaine’s run against Darth Collier. However, as inspiring as that decision is, it raises a few problems.

It’s easy to look at Elaine’s life—Doug and Annie mostly happily married, TJ making a real effort to stay sober, her relationship with Bud on the mend, and her career path never more clear—and claim that women really CAN have it all. However, very little of Elaine’s familial success came of her own doing. Doug, disgraced by the decision to leak Elaine’s resignation letter to Susan, quit his job and eloped with Annie. TJ was talked out of a bender by Saucy Grandma Margaret. Bud’s decision to change was motivated largely by TJ’s substance-abuse problems. Elaine’s family was certainly in better shape by the end of the series, but not because Elaine did anything to improve it.

On one hand, an understanding, largely self-sufficient family is just the sort of environment a woman needs in order to balance work and home life and Political Animals should be applauded for avoiding the “Super Mom” trope that is, unfortunately, largely fictional in the real world. However, on the other hand, how many families just happen to feature generally neglectful parents whose children turn out alright in the end anyway? Elaine is a very fortunate woman. I think she only started to realize that near the end of “Resignation Day.”

And what are we to make of Garcetti’s (probable) death? Clearly, Elaine MUST run against Collier, what with being America’s savior and all, but what does it mean that Elaine is free to openly pursue her goal only AFTER her most formidable rival was literally removed from the playing field? Doesn’t it just take some of the more interesting aspects of the show out of the picture when Elaine’s decision to run for president is altered from being a complicated matter about principles and ethos to a clear, black-and-white battle between good and evil? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about epic battles between obvious good and obvious bad, but politics are messy and nuanced, full of gray area, and I like my political shows to reflect that. Don’t you think we get enough black and white, good and evil, right and wrong, blah blah just watching the current campaign commercials?

However, with that said, Political Animals certainly placed itself in an exciting position in the event a second season comes to fruition. Would you tune in? Despite my nitpicks with the series throughout its six episodes, I actually think I would. The finale left us with a lot of questions, and that’s a good thing.



AMENDMENTS


1. Would you tune in for a second season of Hammond shenanigans?

2. Do you think Garcetti is really dead?

3. If Garcetti really is dead and Political Animals is picked up for a second season, do you see a Vice President Collier: ASSASSIN! storyline in its future? I do, because this show is classy (read: ridiculously soapy and amazing) like like that.

4. Okay, I understand what everyone was going for with crashing Doug and Annie’s elopement, but still, RUDE.

5. I’m really just happy that Susan and her editor/boyfriend kind of sort of made up, even though it cost him his job. That scene with her trying to work on her potential Pulitzer prize-winning article on that frilly little-girl bunk bed was possibly the saddest scene in this series. Susan grew up a lot during this season, let’s graduate back to the big girl bed, okay?

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