Ben Platt on Ryan Murphy and how everyone is ‘a little bit queer’ in Netflix’s The Politician
Ben Platt explains to PinkNews that his new show with Pose creator Ryan Murphy is grounded in a world where everyone’s “a little bit queer”.
The Politician, which lands on Netflix on September 27, stars Platt as Payton Hobart, an ultra-wealthy teenager whose sole ambition is becoming President of the United States, and whose first step is becoming his high school’s student body president.
The Dear Evan Hansen star told PinkNews that although the show is “very satirical and very biting” about the political class, it’s also a quiet statement of representation, with as many on-screen queer relationships as straight ones.
Ben Platt: Everyone is a little bit queer
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Platt explained: “I think it’s really important that Ryan has portrayed this Utopian society that hopefully we’re headed towards, where everybody falls somewhere along the spectrum of sexuality, everyone’s a little bit queer, and no one feels the need to discuss it or label it.”
He continued: “I think Payton isn’t necessarily interested very much about the genders of River or Alice [love interests played by David Corenswet and Julia Schlaepfer], it’s more about what he can gain from each relationship.
“I found that very heartening, and we’re heading towards a time where a story about a queer character does not have to be about their queerness, and it can just be a part of who they are, as much as the fact that he’s selfish and anxious and wears tailored suits.”
People from across the LGBT+ spectrum are on both sides of the camera, with non-binary actor Theo Germaine in a key role, and Pose director Janet Mock helming an episode.
Platt said: “[Working with Ryan] was a dream come true. He gives all of his actors a real meal to make really delicious characters, and we all really want to rise to the occasion.”
Zoey Deutch, who plays teen with cancer Infinity Jackson, added: “Ryan Murphy is one of the only people who is never skims the surface, he is always always going deeper and talking about things that are difficult, like gun control and voter fraud and sexuality.
“With satire and humour and comedy, I think it brings people together in a particular way that a straight-up drama can’t.”
The Politician ‘pokes fun’ at outrage culture
A particularly prescient storyline plays on outrage culture, with one character facing a backlash for using a homophobic slur.
Platt, who himself came out earlier this year, said: “I think the show does a great job of poking fun at the over-political correctness of society at the moment.
“It all comes from a positive place, but sometimes it gets a little bit too precious.
“I think that the show gives people a break, and says, we can take it a little easier as long as someone’s coming from the right place, it’s OK not to jump on every incorrect label that we can.”
Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton, who plays Astrid Sloan, added: “The way Ryan and Brad [Falchuk, co-creator] address these things is incredibly smart because it’s never mocking in any way, it’s always in on the joke.
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“But it does address things head on, it doesn’t shy away from it at all, looking at the current culture and in some places how toxic and it has become.”
‘You’ve got to laugh about the crazy s**t.’
Making a political satire in 2019 might seem like a Herculean task, but The Politician shies away from direct mentions of the giant Cheeto in the White House.
Dear Evan Hansen alum Laura Dreyfuss, who reunites with Platt in the project as Payton’s adviser McAfee, said: “It projects what our political landscape is right now and in a very funny way.”
Zoey Deutch added: “I think shooting a show about politics, when politics seems like it’s a little crazy right now, it’s a blessing that there’s such a there is a comedic element to it.
“You’ve got to laugh about the crazy shit sometimes.”