Political Animals (TV Mini-Series 2012) Poster

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Deliciously entertaining
norks2722 August 2012
In essence, I approached the show for one reason - Sigourney Weaver, but, there is so much more. For one, Ciaran Hinds has never disappointed and after a potentially flaky start which left me spinning I grew to adore the rambunctious 'Bud Hammond'. The scenes between Weaver and Hinds where joyful with some wonderful dialogue and fizzing one liners.

This is not a show which aims for gravitas or to seek out reality, this is hyper-real entertainment that strives to 'do the right thing', entertainment with a principled backbone, (provided you have a liberal sensibility). Issues are touched upon, played with, but not dissected, but you are no less satisfied. It's some kind of hybrid blend of 'Dirty Sexy Money' with elements of 'The West Wing'.

Sigourney Weaver anchors the show with a warmth and integrity that allows for the improbable plot devices to work, or, at the very least, be forgiven. The cast around her revelling in the task of matching her formidable screen presence.

There are flaws, sub plots that don't quite find there rhythm, improbable scenarios, yet I forgive these for the sheer enthusiasm on display. I usually prefer conspiracy driven TV, all earnest and hand wringing in its complexity, this, on the other hand, is a refreshing spritzer for the long hot summer. Sit back, relax, enjoy.

TJ seeks another 'fix', I for one seek another fix of Sigourney Weaver and co.
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Sogorny Weaver is a Treasure
NanoFrog30 July 2012
Yes. Sigourney Weaver is a treasure. It is great to see her on the TV in this series, and she is perfectly cast. The writing coupled with her great spirit allows the artistic medium to look at political issues, in particular, issues affecting women, with an eye that is impossible via the MSM. The one problem I have is seeing reporters like Andrea Mitchell appearing "as themselves" in a fictional story. I believe Ms. Mitchell lowers, perhaps even destroys her credibility by showing up in a drama like this. It is a very distasteful trend in films these days, and I would point the finger of shame at any modern journalist who does this. I am also not at all a fan of the blow hard actor, Ciarán Hinds, but considering the intent of the show, I can get used to it. Perhaps his objectionable is why they cast him. It is great to have an actor of Ms. Weaver's stature in a drama like this. She can lend her formidable presence and integrity to the issues explored by the writers. The rest of the cast is quite god. The producers set up a formidable and interesting family, encompassing most of the red hot issues of our times.
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Great First Episode
mlally_graves16 July 2012
This was a great first episode of Political Animal. The characters were cut from reality although ex-husband, ex-president character (Bud Hammond) was a bit over the top. I like Ciaran Hinds but he shouldn't come off like a joke if you want us to be sympathetic. Really enjoyed Sigourney and Carla Gugino (reporter). Ellen Burstyn, as always, rings true and looks gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing how the director takes this great first step and develops it into TV mini-series history. Lots of potential here if they don't become too predictable. Sigourney Weaver always plays great strong women and I'm happy to see that continue here. The writers have also made her fallible and vulnerable with respect to her family so she escapes a one-dimensional characterization.
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It's all in the mix?!
Sfver16 July 2012
Now this is how a tale should be told, (I had to double check that this was a limited series, as it seemed chock full of plot points that, although quite well paced, in lesser hands would have been dragged out for another 10 episodes).

Even though the tale starts at the end of one story then skips ahead to the second chapter of another, one doesn't get that disjointed feeling of disconnect that usually lets you know that they are hurrying you (and the story), along in order to get to the 'juicy' parts. The story throws in all the usual tropes in a political drama: sex, secrets, back room dealing, cheesy campaigning(no murder/cover-up though), but it does it all without seeming like its treading water, going through the motions, being exploitative or preaching to its audience.

In short, a well written piece of entertainment!
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This could be my new 'Kings' and 'West wing'
blackflame-39 August 2012
Completely taken by surprise with this show. I honestly loved it.

Well written, good strong characters and lots of things going on, so no chance of it becoming a bore.

The series is definitely helped by the fact they have Sigourney Weaver playing the lead character. A perfect choice if I say so myself. I reckon if they had anybody else it may not have actually worked, so excellent casting.

I love the gritty aspect to the series if I am honest. The behind the doors language gives a far more sense of reality to the real world.

Loving the plots which shall remain a mystery to those who are thinking on whether to watch the show or not, but I would say, definitely watch it.

I hope the series does not get cancelled, I am left stunned by the US cable channels pulling the plug on many series and yet, the trash remains. Very puzzling.

Great casting, great show. If you liked West Wing you should like this.
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Stunning Sigourney!
Rabh1719 July 2012
I've always had a warm spot for Sigourney Weaver. She's a forceful, powerful woman that can carry the screen center-stage without being the usual Hollywood Android Sex-Doll.

And this little Political Soapbox mini-series-- though predictable -- gives me a believable, deeply-emoted chronicle of a Political Woman. And yes, the plot-line can be described as formulaic, and the characterizations a bit over the top...but then sometimes 'Formula' Works.

And for all the people who, for some reason, are all in a snit over the 'Language'...Do you actually Believe that when Politicians are behind closed doors and under stress, do you actually BELIEVE that their speech is neatly choreographed in front of Nuns or something? I mean, I know that's what they WANT us to believe, the whole 'Family Values' thing, the 'Girl Scouts & Sugar Cookies' thing...But people-- even your Pastor or your Priest CURSE under stress. And Heck-- Politicians, ALL POLITICIANS, can talk a seaman into the gutter and Back. I know. I worked for the Mayor of New York back in the 80's. And I LEARNED how to curse fluently and at length from that man. But on Camera, he was always sugar cookies and Nicety.

Grow up and Face Reality, Please. This is an ADULT Drama, NOT the Disney Hour.

And back to Sigourney. This is a role that lets a woman radiate 'Gravitas'...and Ms. Weaver is fully 'ON'. Bravo!
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Over The Top Goodness
apples_rule_9312 August 2012
This is one of those shows that is great for the whole ensemble. It would suck without the people that are in it. Everyone does a great job for the role they have. It has apparently gotten so-so reviews, and I am not sure why. Yes, it's over-the-top, but what isn't? And that doesn't mean it is bad. It is crazy in a great way. Every character has his/her hangups. As with all TV shows, it shows everything that has happened/can go wrong, and makes it seem real. This show feels real. Maybe I am biased - I would vote for Elaine. I am sure that the creators knew that, because Secretary Clinton (inspiration for the show) is a lot like Elaine. I think that, because it is a mini-series, people are so harsh on it. It would do great as a full- series because it would give time to focus on what needs to be focused on. But hey, I love it and I think everyone will.
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White House or bust!
hittocere16 July 2012
Political Animals is a political drama based around a family that has been in the White House and a former first lady that wants to take the seat of Commander in Chief for herself. It is an easy series to follow, holds the audience's attention well, and it is full of characters that you'll want to either want to love, hate, or just plain slap.

If you ask my honest opinion of a summary for the series based off the first episode, its like watching a brilliant rendition of what it would have been like watching Secretary of State/Former First Lady Hilary Clinton run for the office of President of the United States from behind the scenes. Family scandals, adultery, nosy journalists, and backstabbing/lying politicians.

Great show, and waiting impatiently for a second episode. Great moments like the scene below. (not word for word, but you'll get the picture...)

"I didn't read your columns, but I did read your book. It was good by the way," Elaine. "...No one read my book." Female Journalist following Elaine "It may have had something to do with the title. Us Bi---es don't like to be called bi---es," Elaine with a knowing smile.
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"Political Animals" goes over the top and then some...
chuck-reilly16 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Political Animals" is a thinly disguised and badly written drama about the Clintons (but with more maladjusted children). Sigourney Weaver plays the Hillary Clinton part as a stand-up honest states-person, so one could immediately surmise that reality is completely thrown out the window. The best thing that can be said is that old Sigourney is much better looking than poor Hillary could ever hope to be...and she's a lot taller. The actor (his name escapes me) who plays her ex-husband and ex-president (Bud Hammond) is so over the top as a drooling predatory womanizer, that he's reduced Bill Clinton to the level of a caricature. As bad as Slick Willie was, he could've never been as salacious as this clown. Carla Gugino is around as a reporter who's only interested in the most intimate details about the former first family. She'll do just about anything for an inside scoop, and her character is about as sympathetic as an understudy for Joseph Goebbels. Luckily for viewers, Ellen Burstyn is in the cast as Sigourney's mother. She looks like a million bucks and her dialog is snappy and delivered with conviction. She must've had it stipulated in her contract to be able to recite intelligent lines, because she's the only one on this show who does. Ms. Weaver tries valiantly to do something with her part, but it just doesn't ring true. She almost seems like she's ready to break out laughing at any moment. As for the rest of the story,there are profanities galore from this dysfunctional family and the requisite gay love scene for those interested in that sort of thing. Halfway through the program, one of Ms. Weaver's exasperated staff members mutters, "If people only knew how bad we're running this government..." The same could be said for this entire production. Or to paraphrase the real Bill Clinton, "It's the writing, stupid!"
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Good start
skc195719 July 2012
Let's see what happened with this one -- a good start for a strong female lead. Sigourney Weaver is a great choice for the lead. Plays to some stereotypes but otherwise is a good addition to the line-up. Kieran is a good choice for the Bill Clintonesque former husband of the president. Any comparisons to Hillary Clinton is intentional, but what's wrong with that? Taking a real-life figure and creating a character for entertainment is a long-accepted trope. Ellen Burstyn is a great choice, too. Keep your eye on this one. If you let the characters develop beyond their stereotypes, you may actually enjoy the series.
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So far so good
phd_travel3 August 2012
A lot of things going on in this story based primarily on Hilary Clinton. They throw in so many issues from the token gay relationship to eating disorders. It's entertaining at least. There are some things taken directly from Hilary's life eg the Lewinsky scandal.

Sigourney is the best part of the show. Her intelligent look is more appropriate than Geena Davis in Commander in Chief. That show took itself a bit too seriously.

A few casting issues. Cirian Hinds is too frightening looking to be the ex President. He is more of a character actor for the villain or some Gothic character. Other cast members are good. Carla is quite well cast as the reporter. The story lines for her sons James and Sebastian seem a bit contrived.

Overall pretty good hope it succeeds.
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Hammond Family values
bkoganbing22 July 2012
Political Animals which is a slightly worn valentine to the Clintons and their lives and times in the White House. It's almost a plea for Hillary Clinton to get back into electoral politics in 2016. No doubt that times were better then and despite the apoplectic fulminations of the religious right we enjoyed Clinton and his escapades in the White House. It would have been better even had we given a Democratic Congress to work in all eight years.

Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barish formerly Hammond, former first lady and now Secretary of State to President Adrian Pasdar who beat her out in her try to be the first female president. Cannot get closer than that. Her lying, cheating, former president husband is Ciaran Hands who in his performance lets you know why Bill Clinton was called 'Slick Willie' in his youth.

They have two sons, steady and reliable James Wolk who is his mother's right hand while keeping on decent relations with his father, not easy, he might have the diplomatic skills to be the Secretary of State. Then there's Sebastian Stan who is the best one in the series. In fact I believe he's one of the best young players around, something I've believed since I saw him guest star in a Law And Order episode several years earlier. He plays the gay second son and the pressure of being the first openly gay child in the White House was too much for him. He's a drug addict and a screw-up and causing one major distraction while Weaver and Hands as the presidential envoy are trying to deal with another hostage crisis in Iran.

The whole series is narrated and seen through the eyes of Carla Gugino who is a news reporter who got some forced insights into the Hammond family covering up a story about Stan's suicide which got out anyway.

This mini-series is interesting and no doubt topical. You'll want to see the next episodes as much as I do.
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Too mush too fast even for a pilot
gradyharp17 July 2012
POLITICAL ANIMALS is being advertised as a limited series so it is doubtful it will be around for more than a few episodes. Maybe that is why it tries to cram so many subplots and shaky character definitions into the space of 1 1/2 hours. The series lists four writers - Greg Berlanti, Geoffrey Nauffts, Molly Newman, and Speed Weed - and perhaps this committee approach is part of the rough result of a script that simply doesn't hang together enough to even whet our interest.

Much has been written about this series being a parody of the Clintons: not only is that an unfair evaluation but it is also an insult to the Clintons. But whatever the reason for building this series, the story SEEMS to be the following: Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds in a deplorable and false Southern accent) is an ex-president, a man whose affairs and sexual liaisons have been fodder for the press more than coverage of important data. His ex-wife Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver) is the current Secretary of State to Pop art president Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar). Elaine and Bud have two adult boy children - Thomas (Sebastian Stan) a drug addicted gay loser and Doug (James Wolk) who is about to be married to a Japanese girl with bulimia. Elaine is being followed by a journalist (Carla Guigino) who is more interested in gossip than fact. In the midst of all the parties to meet the bride-to-be's parents, Thomas' attempt to get financing to create a new night club, and Bud's constant parade of busty women, and Elaine's mother (Ellen Burstyn, the best thing about this series) making caustic comments about Bud's girlfriends and the status quo of the nation, along comes an Iran crisis where three American journalists have been captured, tried and are threatened with execution unless someone acts. The President and his numbskull vice president (Dylan Baker) do nothing so of course Elaine as Secretary of State must act with her journalist tagging along, now a bit more understanding because her boyfriend/editor is cheating on her da da da da da. And all of this is delivered with as much profanity as can be stuffed into a show.

Sigourney Weaver looks great but doesn't seem convinced about the character she is portraying. Ciaran Hinds doesn't have a chance with the absurd dialogue he barfs out, and the rest of the cast - with the sole exception of Ellen Burstyn who is brilliant and has (who knows why/) all of the dialogue that is intelligently written. Perhaps with the next installments there will be some improvement in dialogue and subplot ideas and less on screen emesis and coke snorting. If not the series will remain as titled - a brief series. Oh, David Petrarca 'directs'. Grady Harp, July 12
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terrible TV
ndpease1030524 July 2012
To say that this show is well written is incorrect. I was very surprised that Ms. Weaver even agreed to be apart of this TV blunder. What TV writers need to know is that the audience needs better writing for those of us with a college education who refuse to watch reality shows and crap TV. I was very disappointed with this show. I don't think I got through the first ten minutes of the show because the writing was so bad. WHen Ms. Weaver's character started dancing on stage at a political rally, that did it for me. I am also wondering why the TV execs thought it would such a great idea to release a mini series about politics while America is in the middle of a campaign. We get enough of the mud slinging during the commercials. I was hoping this mini series was going to be worth watching, but alas, it is not.
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Pretty good but needed more episodes
ldmarrian9 June 2019
If you are looking for a quick political show to binge in a post-House of Cards world, Political Animals is honestly not a bad choice.The show mostly succeeds in combining the intrigue and melodrama of politics on the Hill with a relatively honest look at the intricacies of marriage and family.

Notably, Sigourney Weaver is able to fantastically channel an ambitious yet compassionate female lead, with a level of intellect and raw power that only she can really pull off. Importantly, the show cleverly dealt with issues such as the need for morally strong leadership, the hardships of women in power and homophobic attitudes which perhaps makes the show more relevant today, than it was in 2012. Unfortunately, the show did suffer from some soap opera like plot lines that lacked any real dept or at worst made no sense in the context of plot. However, the shows worst sin was the simple fact that it never gave you a complete story and felt as if it ended right in the middle of a season. In particular, the last episode which is full of some insane "jump the shark" like moments fails dismally at stringing together some key plot points.

Nonetheless, it was worth the watch and it managed to satisfy my cravings for an entertaining political drama. I only wish there were more of it.
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A series without a 'purpose'...
buiger20 April 2017
Professionally well made mini-series, with some decent acting, but with something missing... Apart from the copious inspiration of the series based on the life of the Clinton's (only barely masked by the fact that in the series they have two sons instead of a daughter), the series lacks purpose, has no 'raison d'aitre', is going nowhere. It started of quite well, but then very fast we see that it is going nowhere and we are subsequently not surprised when the ending is totally anticlimactic, without meaning. The series simply ends, period.

On the bright side, Sigourney Weaver is very good (as usual) in her portrayal of Hillary, and so is Ciarán Hinds as Bill Clinton (albeit a little over the top). Noteworthy is also the performance of Carla Gugino as the seasoned white house reporter. All in all this ends up being an average TV flick, nothing more, nothing less. It could and should have been much better.
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onsetbeachbum6 March 2014
Segorney Weaver was a powerhouse back in the 80's, but her acting is a bit rusty in this series. This was not a role for her. The plot was excellent, the acting was excellent (with the exception of Segorney Weaver). I didn't find her believable, her acting skills fell flat, I watched two episodes and just couldn't watch any longer. The character that plays her ex husband was a bit creepy and disturbing to look at. I gave it 4 stars for the plot. I just couldn't watch it anymore. I guess it's not the 80's anymore when she ruled the Alien franchise. I guess now we know this only lasted 1 season (6 episodes). I was surprised and disappointed at the same time.
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Many strong characters, story not so much
wcmb9 February 2014
There are great roles here, Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Burstyn and Ciarán Hinds are excellent, but the plots are pretty far-fetched. These people behave naively and stupidly for having been involved in politics as long as they are supposed to have been. Ellen Burstyn won a well deserved award for her role. She has a lot of fun with it. Sigourney Weaver's character struggles with being both a politician and a mom which is a nice perspective and different from other political shows. There are no other shows that have a woman in such a strong role. Initially you'll think this is a veiled portrayal of Hilary Clinton, but only some of it. It easily deviates to other courses. However, the plot arcs are weak and predictable. "House of Cards" is more believable.
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Expected better
TeOfLeDiKi14 August 2012
This show received so much hype even before it aired that I couldn't help but want to watch it, but so far it's been utterly disappointing. Unfortunately, the very worst part of the show is Sigourney Weaver - she is so ill-suited to the framework of a television series that it's laughable. The second very worst part is Ciaran Hinds as the former president - he is so ill-suited to the role of the smirking, Southern-accented, crass, despicable, buffoon that you can't help but wonder just how much money they offered him to ruin his reputation.

Weaver is a film actress and her discomfort at working in front of TV cameras is painfully obvious. Her mannerisms are wooden - she delivers every line with a noticeable vertical nod that punctuates every other word or so, and her intonation is identical in almost every single line. Most of the supporting actors have TV experience and deliver their lines much more naturally, or at least convincingly (Ellen Burstyn, in particular, is a gem in just about anything she does).

The media made a great deal out of Sebastian Stan's performance in Once Upon a Time, lamenting that he might not return to that show because he had committed to Political Animals. Hopefully, that will not be an issue - sympathetic and layered in Once Upon a Time, Stan's character in Political Animals is one-dimensional and not worthy of his talent.

There are a few redeeming performances in the show (Gugino, Futterman, Burstyn, Pasdar, to name a few). But there are no real characters - they're all caricatures.
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rsiluch16 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When looking through the TV guide, this show initially grabbed my attention. It looked like a sophisticated show about politics the Whitehouse. How sorely I was mistaken. Let us first go through the cast. Sigourney Weaver is not the same actress she used to be. While she used to grab attention with her charisma and actual acting ability, now she is a husk of her former self with little acting ability left. Let us move on to the reporter played by Carla Gugino (who isn't even credited on IMDb). It would have been nice if one of the female leads could act her way out of a paper bag, however I realize that I was dreaming in hoping one of them could. While it would seem impossible to drag this show down, she managed to do this. You would think that smiling in a sad scene (such as when she discovers she had been cheated on by her exceptionally lame boyfriend, character and acting wise) would be a problem you wouldn't have in an elementary school production, let alone an actual TV show! She has anti-stage presence, if that is even possible. All of the other male leads are either 1-dimensional or have no redeeming qualities, such as the ex-president and Sigourney Weaver's ex-husband in the show (who also is not credited on IMDb).The only good actor is hidden away as a lame Vice President who would sound stupid in Jersey Shore. This leads us to the writing, which is probably the worst aspect of this show. In between moments of bashing my head against a wall while trying to watch this, I realized that the stories children invent in elementary school far surpass the level of intelligence displayed on this show. Every attempted 'plot twist' could be seen a mile away, blindfolded. Watching this show allows me to appreciate the relatively good writing of TV trash such as Jersey Shore, because at least while watching that you have the presumption that it is reality.

Overall, the level of intelligence required to watch this is on par with the annual Yule Log special. The acting is downright disgraceful, helped in no part by the writing, which rivals 'Season of the Witch' in terms of atrocity. The show can be summed up in a scene where Sigourney Weaver's character makes a speech about Elephants. By placing emphasis on each line, actually on every word, she would have been out acted by Peter Mansbridge(this is not discrediting Mr. Mansbridge, as he does an exceptional job as an anchor). While this is going on, Carla Gugino reveals her plastic and ever-present vacant smile. The attempted wit at the end is lost on the viewer, as one finds it hard to tell if it actually was a genuine attempt at humour.

Right before watching this terrible excuse for a TV show, I watched an episode of "The Newsroom.' It is hard to fathom that these are both TV shows, because besides the fact that they both show up on your television, they appear to have just as many similarities as a rock and a person. Guess which one is the rock.
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Lots of Promise, Lots More Gratuitous Profanity and Disappointment
DrMWEcker16 July 2012
What a disappointing series pilot! Barely one minute goes by without one character or another calling things "shit" and otherwise offering a cheap attempt at shock value instead of the hard work of good writing.

The write-ups are correct: It's a thinly veiled Clinton family, or at least modeled after the Clintons. If USA Network thinks writing this dark fictitious version of history is entertaining, the network needs to look at genuine entertainment it currently has or recently ran; e.g., In Plain Sight.

It is so sad to see actors of the caliber of Sigourney Weaver reduced to this needlessly coarse behavior. Are we really to believe that realism requires replacing good scripting with nothing but vile, unlikable characters who incessantly swear, are totally amoral and cynical, and otherwise come across as reprehensible narcissists whom you would not want to ever know personally?
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Too Close to the Clintons
jf-3938528 June 2017
This show hit too close to home for the Clintons so it was pulled off the air. The former president was obviously based on Bill Clinton and the Sec State was obviously based on Hillary Clinton except that Signorney Weaver's character was much better than what we got in real life.
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This is no West Wing
While I never got deeply into West Wing whenever I watched it you can't help but love the intelligent plots, the snappy dialog, and the smart characters. This show appears to be missing pretty much all of that. Granted it's not trying to bill itself as West Wing but as I watched the first few episodes I couldn't help but feel like it was trying really hard to make me interested and make this a 'hard" and "realistic" portrayal of political life. But I don't buy it. There is some pretty top notch talent here. Carla is usually solid, although generally lacks dimension in her characters, Sigourney, well she plays the same thing in everything and rarely impresses, Ellen Burstyn is actually fun to watch but doesn't get a lot of meat to her role, so ultimately it's not that great, the greatest disappointment here is Ciaran Hinds. Personally I think he is an excellent actor. Everything I've seen him in he's done great. But here is completely wasted. Not only does a southern drawl not suit him well, but it's just not the kind of character he portrays usually. He plays the Bill Clinton-esque philanderer who is supposed to be magnetic. Instead he feels kind of slimy, old fashioned, and just uninteresting. Too bad, too bad. I think Ciaran would be better suited for a more intellectual and layered role, but oh well. Regardless the whole show to me just feels like it's trying too hard and really trying to be this hard political show when it's just another USA snoozer. USA puts out good stuff occasionally but ultimately it's usually unoriginal or unintelligent takes on better shows from cable networks like AMC, HBO, and Showtime. Too bad, I was curious, but now I have no interest.
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Politics - maybe. Respect for viewers and language - no
texaggie7117 July 2012
At one point Sigourney Weaver's character tells another, "The American people aren't idiots." From what I observed in the opening episode of this miniseries, its creators and "writers" must believe otherwise. There is absolutely no valid reason for such vile language or explicit depictions of drug use and sex. While the actors seem to be giving it their best efforts, and the sets and production values are top-notch, there were almost no scenes that didn't beg unfortunate comparisons to "West Wing" or the movies "Dave" (which also co-starred Ms. Weaver as a disillusioned former first lady) or "American President." On the whole, I couldn't help but find it very disappointing.
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Politics, media and family affairs - the show, that has it all...
MrVanDexter18 July 2012
"Political Animals" is a show about the connection of politics, media and family affairs. I enjoyed the pilot and can't hardly wait to see the next episode. Although the story was a bit predictable, the acting, the dialog and the settings were great. I especially loved the funny lines of Ellen Burstyn as the Ex-Presidents mom and the plot of Sebastian Stan as the troubled gay son. What a rich leading part for the talented Sigourney Weaver, still looking stunning at the age of 62. She is the woman America should vote for: smart, brave and honest. Conclusion: It's a prime time soap at its best. *** "Never call a bitch a bitch, us bitches hate that."
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