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Political Animals: Soapbox Demolition Derby

Political Animals S01E04: "Lost Boys"

It seemed like everybody had a soapbox this week in the bizzaro Washington D.C. that Political Animals takes place in. I especially loved Doug's "It shows how truly screwed up this country is..." rant about conservative freshman Sean Reeves being a disrespectful jackass toward the the executive administration. I mean, he had a point, but anytime someone starts his political discourse with a self-righteous screed about America's impending implosion at the hands of its own voters, I tend to zone out. These individuals exist on both sides of the party line. They're almost always embarrassing, even when I ultimately end up agreeing with the gist of someone's message. It's just that attitude, "Well, if I were in charge, we'd live in a bona fide utopia," that kills my ability to take them seriously.

But remember, kids, Elaine Hammond is a modern messiah. So when she or her increasingly irritating son insists they can save the world, you better believe it.

But despite "Lost Boys" claiming the honor of being the episode in which Elaine finally resigned from her Secretary of State gig and declared war on incumbent President Garcetti, the spotlight instead landed on TJ Hammond. Through flashbacks, we learned the details of his previous suicide attempt: Sean Reeves blocked an important piece of legislation and Super Villain Vice President Fred Collier blackmailed him into backing down, using knowledge of his extra-marital affair with, you guessed it, TJ Hammond. Elaine, in turn, demanded that TJ break things off, seemingly more pissed that TJ would allow himself to be the "other" in a married man's life rather than upset that her youngest kid was about to get his heart broken by a career politician. She warned him, sure, but for goodness sakes, TJ was clearly smitten, totally in love... maybe she could have been a little more understanding. She had an adult's experience to draw upon and, without getting too much into the "privilege" argument because I haaaate the privilege argument, while Elaine had her own struggles in her own high-profile relationship, her struggles were not TJ's. Growing up as a gay teen in a heavily scrutinized White House family, TJ faced a different set of obstacles to find someone who made him happy. While his relationship with Reeves was not ideal or fair, Elaine's "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?" attitude couldn't have been further from what TJ needed to hear. In his own way, at that time, Reeves supported TJ the way his family didn't and often couldn't. TJ managed to stay sober for the six months that he was with Reeves, and yet the family regarded his involvement with the closeted, married Republican as little more than a poorly chosen fling.

With that said, Sean Reeves was nothing short of an all-around douchebag.

Elsewhere in the capital, Doug and Susan had a series of play dates to orchestrate the political story/presidential race of the decade and run damage control on Annie's disastrous interview with Georgia. In a blatant rookie mistake, Annie accidentally leaked confirmation of Elaine's campaign plans. Oops. Doug convinced Susan to suck it up and offer Georgia a byline on the story in exchange for not blabbing everything to the internet. He played on her dream of winning another Pulitzer and offered up his own personal desire to be the White House Chief of Staff: "In order for our dreams to come true, my mother's have to come true first."

Fresh off of a round-the-world exile for her interference in the supreme court drama from last week, Elaine finalized her plans to run against Garcetti, especially in the wake of his ineffectiveness when a Chinese Navy sub sank in the waters outside of San Diego. One hundred Chinese sailors faced certain death as the sub's nuclear core melted down. The Chinese government refused to rescue the sailors because it would cause too much exposure. Personally, President Garcetti was all about sending in American rescue teams, but Vice President Darth Vader claimed that waiting for the Chinese sailors to croak and then claiming the foreign sub as the U.S.'s own would make a great espionage victory, and I guess he outranks the president or something so... Garcetti is almost hilariously useless.

But it's all for the benefit of our Elaine, right? She stood by her personal mission to save the Chinese sailors and by golly, she did it. And she's running for president. And she's going to win. And possibly (probably) get back with her husband by the end of all of this.

While Elaine and Doug spent most of "Lost Boys" making me cringe and/or roll my eyes, Bud Hammond piqued my interest outside of his entertainment as a Bill Clinton stand-in when he decided to really, honestly, for super serious you guys, stop womanizing. It looked bleak for a little while, with his decision to bail on the opening night festivities at TJ's club, especially with his reluctance to admit the real reason for flaking (his publicist, whom he was banging, said it would look bad if the known philanderer went to a dance club), and instead went off on a tangent about TJ being a junkie who would surely relapse, so what's the point of trying? Even Elaine jumped on the bandwagon when she learned that Sean Reeves was on TJ's guest list. Remember that understanding and support thing, Elaine? Remember? No? Well okay then.

But Bud had a change of heart. He sincerely wants to get back together with Elaine and he wants to be a good father again. He decided to go to the grand opening of TJ's club after all... and walked right into his son's drug overdose.

If you watch Political Animals for the soap and not the smart, I promise, it's all worth it.


Amendments


– I don't think I've commented yet on how sexy the opening credits for Political Animals actually are. Consider the comment made.

– "The president who leaves those men on the ocean floor deserves to be dethroned." Lol, this dialogue. I can't handle it.

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What a waste what a waste what a waste ... all of this sublime talent, and a fabulous writer who phoned it in. Not all the soft lighting in this world can save you from that.
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I just caught up with all previous episodes. First of all, Nathan Petrelli for president? Oh, yeah, all the way. Unless he's secretly shape-shifting Sylar, in that case we're doomed. I'm not sure what to think of Alien's Ripley as president, but at least I'm sure she would have a harsh policy against illegal aliens.



OK, OK, about *this* show... So basically Elaine decides to run against Garcetti because the country simply needs her so badly, and she thinks she's the only one that can save it. Jesus! That woman's ego has no limits! The writers may have tried to justify her actions making sure we understood her decision was not because of her ambition, but I think that's exactly what it is.



But the way the story is built I bet we can count on the fact that by the end of the miniseries she'll predictably be elected president. Oh, well, maybe the writers are better than I expect and get to surprise me this time.
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In my experience, drug addicts fall into two extreme categories. The ones you find yourself pulling for more than they're even pulling for themselves, and the ones that you deem "lost causes" of sorts and they're more annoying and frustrating than they are endearing or sympathy/empathy inducing. I'm possibly in the minority here, though that wouldn't be the first time, but I find TJ to be endearing. I pull for the guy. I root for the guy. He isn't the type I'd want to give up on. He's had it rough, and the great irony of it all is that the spotlight is always on him publicly and within his family but no one ever sees him. Not until it's too late or until he's screwed something up. His family enables his addiction whether they realize it or not. It was interesting seeing more background on his character. I rather enjoyed it.

-I enjoyed Doug more this go round. True son of politicians that one.

-Ellen Burstyn was grossly underused. I missed her quips.

-Bud was kind of awesome. He's still a slimeball but he gets shizz done.

-That was the worst sober coach ever.He didn't even put up a fight, it took him all of two seconds to be talked into that.
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You're not in the minority, I root for T.J., I can sympathize with the un-supportive parents that disguise criticism as advise given out of love. It's hard to know that you can only make them proud on their terms, but the moment you try to do something else they take it back. It can drive people to all sorts of different ends, drug abuse being one of them.
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I wouldn't say you are in the minority, I pull for TJ, mostly because it is not entirely his fault that he is in these situations, he never asked to be in the public eye and his parents do sort of abandon him when he needs the most help, Elaine failed to sympathize with him when he was caught in a scandal. I am anxious to find if he is ok. Is two episodes enough time to resolve this story. I have a feeling these last two eps may feel rushed.
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I agree some of the dialogue this week was underpar, especially the name of TJ's sober partner, Gunner Cox, really? I have been having trouble sympathizing with TJ for the last two episodes, but they managed to make him somewhat more likable this week, and I really hope he doesn't die and I doubt he will, but I really hope Elaine outs Reeves, for being the reason that TJ attempted to kill himself twice. I enjoyed Doug and Susan's scenes together, they have an interesting dynamic. Am I the only one questioning the use of Anne, all she did in this one was leak Elaine's Presidency to Georgia, what about her Bulimia. And Bud has turned into a much more likable character these last two episodes, though I didn't like him, when telling TJ why he wasn't going to the nightclub, but he was right.
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Were we supposed to sympathize with TJ? Because I have had it with the character. He's tiresome and I kinda just want him to die. Hope the ambulance drives slow.
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Sexy? I don't see it at all. Messy, yes. I think you may need to elaborate on that one.
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