There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the mess you could see. Every Friday The edgeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by sorting the overwhelming amount of movies and TV shows over subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
Election, a political satire from 1999, directed by Alexander Payne and co-written by Payne and Jim Taylor, who adapts the novel by Tom Perrotta. At a high school in Omaha, Nebraska, the film Reese Witherspoon plays as Tracy Flick, an energetic overachiever who irritates her self-satisfied idealistic history teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) with her aggressive self-promotion.
"Mr. M" sees Tracy as a symbol of a kind of prissy privilege, harmful to the great American experiment. Chris Klein plays sympathetic, stupid jock Paul Metzler, who encourages McAllister to participate in the race for class president against Flick. Jessica Campbell plays Paul & # 39; s lesbian sister Tammy, who will be the spoiler. Election examines the simmering despair of a middle-aged Central American teacher, while also commenting on how even the least important political campaigns can evolve into shallow attitudes and mud pools.
Why watch now?
Because the Election-like series The politician is now available on Netflix.
Co-created by cheerfulness producers Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy – a team that has worked on the TV series in various combinations Scream queen, American horror story, American crime story, Pose, Popularand Nip / Tuck, among other things – The politician stars Tony-winning Broadway actor Ben Blatt as Payton Hobart, a senior-class Santa Barbara teenager hoping to use a high school election as a springboard to his larger political goals. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the loving mother Georgina of Payton, while Zoey is Deutch Infinity Jackson, a sickly classmate who mentions Payton as his running partner, to try a sympathetic mood.
The politician is the first project that Ryan Murphy has produced in the context of a lucrative multi-year deal with Netflix. Before the first season even went into production, the green was lit for season 2. In the continuum of Murphy's shows, The politician has more in common with Scream queen and cheerfulness than Pose or American crime story. The series comments on the superficiality of modern politics, but in a way that is colorful and cartoon-like, with a broad comic view of privileges and popularity, not bogged down by complicated real-world details.
Election is also not exactly a docudrama, but although the characters are also comical (and rooted in stereotypes), the film is mainly about the daily grind of middle-class existence. Payne and Taylor let each of their main characters tell their part of the story through overlapping narration to illustrate the distance between their self-image and their actual behavior and also to mitigate the bitter undertone of McAllister and Flick & # 39; s voices with relative sweetness of the Metzler brothers and sisters.
However, this story is mainly about Mr. M, who learns the same nasty facts every year and then goes home with the boring dinners of his wife and his secret stock of pornography. McAllister has many morality and ethics options, but his firm conviction does not prevent him from inviting his wife's best friend to sleep with him – and no less at an American Family Inn. Payne and Taylor are at the same time empathetic and critical of a man who overestimates his own interests and interferes with a meaningless election hoping to save the world from Tracy Flick.
Broderick gives a great nebbishy performance, and the filmmakers do fine to use visual cues to define the smallness of his world – such as the recurring image of his automatic seat belt, which wraps itself tightly around his body every time he enters his car steps.
For who it is
Political junkies and fans of Reese Witherspoon.
Witherspoon started her career well and gave a handful of well-received performances when she was still in her teens and early 20s. Election showed off her talent for comedy and for playing life-sized, often unapologically brash characters. Her fierce Tracy (whose printed last name, & # 39; FLICK & # 39 ;, looks remarkably coarse in certain fonts) is a lonely soul with a megalomaniacal tendency, for whom the American education system is less about collecting knowledge and more about increasing the score on her transcript.
In the meantime, Payne and Taylor enjoy mocking the rut of high school and the futility of high school elections. M. depicts the ritual as an exercise in democracy: it is the freedom to choose between apples and oranges, he says, drawing both fruits on a plate as circles without character. When Paul then remarks sharply that his preference for apples or oranges varies depending on the day, it is a funny, sharp metaphor for the capriciousness of the American electorate.
Where to see it
Tubi and Vudu are currently streaming Election free (with advertisements). It is also worthwhile to discover the debut function of Payne and Taylor from 1996, Citizen Ruth, which satirizes the abortion debate through the story of a wastrel (hilariously played by Laura Dern) that becomes a national cause after she has become pregnant. It is not available through a subscription or ad-supported streaming services, but most digital retailers offer it for rent or purchase.