Political Animals by Kevin Ellis

If you are a political junkie, you are probably spending Sunday nights at 10 pm watching The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s latest attempt to recreate the magic of The West Wing.
As a West Wing devotee, The Newsroom is OK. It tries hard. But the characters don’t fit the writing. And somehow a TV newsroom just cannot match the drama, pace and seriousness of a White House.
But over on USA Network, Political Animals with Sigourney Weaver, is great – especially if you are into the cult of Hillary Clinton. If you ever wondered why she stayed with her husband, what drives her, why she ran for president, how could she have managed the embarrassment all these years to become such a good secretary of state and such pure statement of whatever American exceptionalism is at the end of the day.
Weaver plays a former first lady who ran for president and lost. She is now secretary of state managing diplomatic crises while mothering to a gay son and having to watch her ex-husband – the ex-president – cavort with bimbos.
That is all pretty standard stuff. But the really good writing and plot is around what drives her. Why she does it. It gives you a great window into Hillary Clinton.
In the case of Political Animals, television has done what serious journalism has failed to do – explain a phenomenon that is layered, subtle and really, really complicated.
Sigourney Weaver says in interviews that she didn’t set out to play Hillary Clinton. But she is giving us a wonderful explanation – without all the right or left wing junk.
Clinton will go down in history as one of the greatest secretaries of state and one of the most intriguing political characters ever. Political Animals gives us head in understanding why.


Kevin Ellis


KSE Partners, LLP


Cambridge Montpelier Washington