One episode in and TV Fanatic is in love with Political Animals.
How come? We'll let Round Table panelists Lindsey Kempton, Leigh Raines, Chandel Charles, Christine Orlando and Carla Day explain, as they've gathered below to break down the premiere and look forward to the remaining five episodes this summer...
What was your favorite scene or moment in the premiere?
Lindsey: Elaine's odd friendship with the Putin-esque Russian Foreign Minister Viktor. Unlike the other male politicians she deals with, he respects her ambition (or as he puts it, her "balls") rather than criticizing her for it.
Leigh: My favorite scene was probably Susan walking out on her boyfriend. It was so obvious he leaked the tip and I was glad that she stood up for herself. She spent her career criticizing Elaine Barrish, but I really see more similarities between these women. I'm glad Susan had some morals in not publishing the story on TJ.
Chandel: I think it had to be in the premiere where Elaine confided in her driver that she was running for President. That was the moment when the real content of the series was revealed for me, or at least the next steps.
Christine: It was the moment Susan realized that not only did her boyfriend screw her on the story but was also cheating on her with the bimbo blogger. That she didn't take any of his crap after that, moved out and wanted to apologize to Elaine sold her character to me.
Carla: I loved when Elaine talked about the elephants. It set a positive woman-power tone for the limited series. Plus, since Elaine is a democrat, her love of elephants made me smile.
Favorite Political Animals quote?
Lindsey: "Don't call a bitch a bitch. Us bitches hate that" but only when Elaine Barrish says it. Berg's use of the phrase later on fell flat, just like her attempt at reclaiming the word "bitch" for her book.
Leigh: Favorite quote is probably too dirty to use, so I'll go with TJ's "They love us when they're not busy hating us." So true.
Chandel: "If I read everything people wrote about me, I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning." I don't know why it stuck with me, but I suppose it had something to do with the fact that there are bigger things in this world to be worried about than what the local rag has written about us. Not that I have any personal experience with it, I'm not that important, but it was probably true for those who experience it.
Christine: "It's the middle East. It's the diplomatic equivalent of instructions from IKEA. None of it makes any sense." - Having put together plenty of IKEA furniture, that one made me laugh.
Carla: Not necessarily my favorite quote, but one that established my intense dislike of Bud was, "You're asking me to eat shit. Now, I held the highest office in the land. An office only 41 men before me ever held. I don't eat shit. I serve it." Is that the way to talk to your wife? Or, someone who just ran and lost their presidential bid? He's an ass and she was right to ask for a divorce right then.
Which character did you find the most compelling and why?
Lindsey: The obvious answer is Elaine Barrish. Sigourney Weaver does a great job (so far) of making her a believable character and not just a Hilary Clinton stand-in. But besides Barrish, I think Thomas is complex and intriguing. There's a lot to him already, a lot more than Douglas at least, and there are so many directions the writers could take him.
Leigh: I love Ellen Burstyn, so I wanna see some more from her. She seems so behind the scenes, but you know she's got a lot more to offer!
Chandel: I think Susan is definitely the most compelling to me. She's got drive and ambition about as uninhibited as Elaine's, and I think that's where these two ladies connect. I'll be interested to see how this relationship develops.
Christine: Elaine, I know that's predictable being she's the main character but I enjoyed her complexity. She's smart, ambitious, driven, loves her family and knows that the only way not to let the bad times take you under is to keep moving forward until you get back to the good.
Carla: At first I thought I'd say either Elaine or Susan, but since you have those covering, I'm going with TJ. His troubles and story, I find the most compelling. How will he overcome being ridiculed by his father and let down by his family to step out of their shadow?
Were you more intrigued by the family drama or the political maneuvering?
Lindsey: I don't think they can be separated, really. They each affect the other. I particularly like that Elaine's son Douglas works with her. I think that's an interesting wrinkle, especially if we consider the unspoken standard that it's unprofessional for women to talk about their children and family at work, let alone bring them to work!
Leigh: I agree with Lindsey, they really can't be separated. However if I had to choose I'd go with family drama. I'm not much of a politico, but give me family drama anyday and you've got me hooked. Each member of this family has something to bring to the table and that's rare. I am interested in learning more about every single one.
Chandel: I major in Political Science, so the maneuvering is definitely as compelling, if not more so, than the family drama aspect. I have a healthy respect for both, especially in the way they've been inexplicably linked through this show.
Christine: Neither on its own would hold my attention but the combination of the two kept me intrigued.
Carla: Both were amazingly well written and complemented each other. I'm looking forward to both.
What shocked you more: Bud's luck with the ladies, including hooking up with Elaine again? Elaine and Susan collaborating in the end? Or, the President's manipulation of the Iran situation?
Lindsey: None of these events shocked me, but President Garcetti's manipulation of the Iran situation and, by extension, Elaine, most upset me. On top of the fact that I'm already rooting for Elaine, I just didn't like his decision. I also don't trust Elaine and Susan's collaboration, but both woman clearly know that they're using each other so I expect some sort of twist to come!
Leigh: Bud's luck with the ladies probably. But hey, people are attracted to power so whatever floats your boat!
Chandel: Bud's luck with the ladies, I suppose. She really should have had more respect for herself. I get they were married for thirty years and had children together, but, come on, seriously?
Christine: The Elaine and Bud hook up. I didn't see that one coming but there will always be the love that was the base of their 30 year relationship, despite all the BS that ended the marriage.
Carla: I just don't get the appeal of Bud. He was written with little charisma or charm, so how is he so beloved? We are seeing the "real" him, perhaps he has a warmer public persona?
Did you find the crude language and sex scenes to be integral to the storytelling, gratuitous or a combination of both?
Lindsey: I didn't think the language or sex scenes were crude or gratuitous at all. Maybe I've been watching too much HBO!
Leigh: I found the crude language and sex scenes to be realistic and that's what counts. Nobody I know speaks or acts in a censored manner. I know some people will find it offensive, but I don't. It worked for the story.
Chandel: Definitely unnecessary and a little over-the-top for my taste with regards to the sex. I review a good majority of USA Network's shows, all of which are tremendously well written and acted, and don't include as graphic scenes. I could have done without it, and so could this show in the long run. As far as the language, that's really nothing new, and to be quite honest, I think I've become somewhat desensitized to it.
Christine: The sex and language surprised me a little because you usually don't see that on a USA show. I didn't think it was necessary but it didn't bother me either. Honestly, the fiance forcibly retching into the toilet bothered me more.
Carla: USA was trying to push the limits. None of them bothered me, but if they would have use a little restraint, the episode would have flowed better. I hope now that the tone is set, we get more pertinant uses of language and sex scenes.