Political Animals coming to an end with no big fireworks as hyped on USA Network

Dave Masko's picture

Given poor ratings and scathingly bad reviews, the “Political Animals” miniseries on the USA Network ends later this month in the same way as many real-life political careers often do - with a whimper!

The fact that “Political Animals” is doing poorly; even while Sigourney Weaver seems to be doing a good job playing a former First Lady who is now the current secretary of state; one would think Weaver (who plays Elaine Barrish) would be getting a ratings boost from the real life person she plays, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, by all accounts, is doing a smashing job at keeping the media interested. For instance, it was just this past Tuesday, Aug. 7, that Secretary Clinton laughed and then danced to African music at a gala dinner at the presidential guest house in Pretoria, South Africa. In turn, the New York Daily News dubbed Clinton “the Secretary Rhythm,” for “letting her hair down” and then getting on the dance floor where “Clinton broke out with some hip shaking and shoulder shimmying;” while even “grinding up – in a semi-raunchy move – with singer Judith Sephuma.” Now, ask many of today’s TV critics - who’ve panned “Political Animals” – why can’t Weaver’s Elaine Barrish do the same as the “fictional” secretary of state on television?

Political Animals continues with lukewarm reviews

“Political Animals” has received some very poor to lukewarm reviews since this limited TV series first aired last month. For instance, Linda Stasi of the New York Post simply stated: “The actors are great, but the show isn’t.”

Also, Tim Goodman with the Hollywood Reporter writes that “what Animals is trying to do is take The West Wing and turn it into Dallas. And if you don’t like Dallas that can be a real letdown.”

At the same time, Verne Gay of Newsday is one of “Political Animals” most harsh critics, stating how the series is "stupendously silly," adding "it's a clanking, clattering collection of collagenous clinkers; of dialogue so inept, of acting performances so preposterous, of plot points so clichéd that the only question worth posing is why someone of Weaver's stature would be caught anywhere near a turkey like this."

Episode 5 of “Political Animals” on Sunday

“Political Animals” airs its 5th episode – of this six episode series – on the USA Network this Sunday, Aug. 12, at 10/9c with this episode focusing on the aftermath of T.J.’s overdose; while Elaine finds herself “torn between staying by her son’s side and handling the rescue of a Chinese submarine, or dealing with her husband who discovers the truth behind T.J.’s suicide attempt.

At the same time, there’s yet more yawns as “Susan keeps quiet on T.J.’s overdose;” while Elaine grants her unlimited access to the submarine rescue mission. In turn, this leaves Douglas alone to “cross a boundary that could jeopardize his future.”

Thankfully, say some TV critics, the “Political Animals” miniseries comes to an end on Sunday, Aug. 19 when episode 6 “Resignation Day,” formally concludes the show with no word yet from the USA Network if it’s being picked up for a second season.

Moreover, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blasted “Political Animals” in a scathing review of this TV show last month that seemed to inspire other TV critics to also say this show is “let’s say, for the birds.”

Bad reviews sinking “Political Animals”

The notion of a summer soap inspired by real-life politicians has merit, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month, and then noted how the USA Network's "Political Animals" gets bogged down “in exposition throughout. The problem is not the concept; it's the execution.”

Created by Greg Berlanti ("Everwood," "Brothers & Sisters"), the newspaper explained how "Political Animals" tracks the career of Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver, "Aliens"), wife of former U.S. President Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds). A Democrat, Elaine ran unsuccessfully for president and later accepted the job as secretary of state. If that makes her sound a lot like Hillary Rodham Clinton, well, that's intentional.”

In turn, the review noted how “many of the characters, situations and events in ‘Political Animals’ are clearly inspired by real politicos, with enough fabricated elements tossed in to give Berlanti grist for the drama mill. But there are a whole lot of characters to meet, and each one seems to have motivations that have to be spelled out in neon letters.”

While the review stated how “you can see bits of Elaine's sense of humor and toughness in her mother, former first mother-in-law Margaret Barrish (Ellen Burstyn), who complains, ‘They never let me talk on the record. I'm either too drunk or too honest.”

Cutting edge drama becomes a soap opera

Overall, “Political Animals” has become a sort of soap opera, add many TV critics.

Thus, last week’s episode was not only lukewarm, says the few fans commenting about the younger cast members who seem somewhat “dazed and confused,” but the overall feel of the show seems to lack any real “political buzz” or excitement.

For instance, it’s now old news that Elaine's son T.J. (Sebastian Stan, "Gossip Girl"), is openly gay and a drug addict; when one TV critics quipped “who’s not on TV today?” While T.J’s politically savvy brother, Douglas (James Wolk, "Lonestar"), seems bored as Elaine's chief of staff; with who cares is Douglas is preparing to marry Anne (Brittany Ishibashi), with whom he has a pretty graphic sexual interlude” that critics note “hasn’t seemed to save the show.”

The USA Network describes "Political Animals" as a "limited series television event" that airs on Sundays. And while TV critics once said they had high hopes for this television show that spotlights real life politics – it’s more or less fizzled after the first four episodes. Thus, TV critics say Political Animals has just not panned out to be water-cooler conversation or even something to look forward to on Sunday night.

Image source of the USA Network poster for the current miniseries “Political Animals” that wraps on Sunday, Aug. 19 when episode 6 “Resignation Day.” Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Animals_(miniseries)

Comments

Submitted by Emma (not verified) on
What a terribly written article. Political Animals is fantastic. Great show, well written, intelligent and well acted. You've got to be kidding about citing an article from Pittsburgh?! Are u joking? Every major entertainment news outlet has given it positive reviews and acknowledged its summer entertainment value. The fans love it. Really hoping it gets picked up so we can see Elaine run against Garcetti.

Submitted by GtownGirl (not verified) on
Great show! Intelligent. Farthest thing away from those nightmare Housewives show. quality tv deserves to stay on the air and raise the conversation to a smarter level,don't you think?! Come Masko, the Puttsburgh Gazette was the best you could do for a negative review from the many you claim are out there?

Submitted by GtownGirl (not verified) on
Great show! Intelligent. Farthest thing away from those nightmare Housewives show. quality tv deserves to stay on the air and raise the conversation to a smarter level,don't you think?! Come Masko, the Puttsburgh Gazette was the best you could do for a negative review from the many you claim are out there?

Submitted by GtownGirl (not verified) on
Great show! Intelligent. Farthest thing away from those nightmare Housewives show. quality tv deserves to stay on the air and raise the conversation to a smarter level,don't you think?! Come Masko, the Puttsburgh Gazette was the best you could do for a negative review from the many you claim are out there?

Submitted by GtownGirl (not verified) on
Great show! Intelligent. Farthest thing away from those nightmare Housewives show. quality tv deserves to stay on the air and raise the conversation to a smarter level,don't you think?! Come Masko, the Puttsburgh Gazette was the best you could do for a negative review from the many you claim are out there?

Submitted by GtownGirl (not verified) on
Great show! Intelligent. Farthest thing away from those nightmare Housewives show. quality tv deserves to stay on the air and raise the conversation to a smarter level,don't you think?! Come Masko, the Puttsburgh Gazette was the best you could do for a negative review from the many you claim are out there?

Submitted by Janna (not verified) on
I have been a huge fan of this show from the start. It appears that this show got lost in the shuffle at first, being that its on Sundays at nine. But the fan base is passionate the show. I have read review after review about how much people are getting into this. Norman Lear said its great. Take your pick of great reviews. They called it a "frothy beast" on the Huffington post blog. Love that description. Its political soap at its best. But this show needs more time to find its voice and its audience. That' what I hate about American TV today...they don't give shows enough time to find an audience, and develop a unique voice. This is sexy, funny, political light. Its heavy sometimes, but not too heavy. Love it. Hope it gets picked up for more episodes after its initial limited run.

Submitted by KDC1025 (not verified) on
I enjoyed all six episodes of Political Animals and hope to see more in the near future. I think the story lines could do with some extra spark, but all the elements are right there -- great actors, unlimited material -- the show never even touched on the Republicans yet, good sets, and strong potential. I agree the show dwelt too much on the "gay, drug-addict" angle. It would be nice to have TJ's character be less one-dimensional. I just think that Political Animals deserves another season, and the terrific actors involved in the project deserve to have their characters involved developed to a greater degree.

Submitted by Jean (not verified) on
I have read numerous positive reviews of the limited run of Political Animals. I am hoping to see more of it in the future. I belive it has good characters, plausible story lines and just enough drama to keep it interesting. Great caliber of actors that seem to work well together and I hope it gets more of a chance to see where the story can go. I believe it can build a great audience for itself. I throughly enjoyed each show.

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