Political Animals Review: Suicide
TJ just imploded with a push from his family.
Out of all the characters on Political Animals, the one I've been the most curious about is TJ. He's been a mystery because his story has been told in the most basic terms, including coming out while living in the White House, having a drug problem and going through with an unsuccessful suicide attempt.
In "Lost Boys, we learned the truth about the latter, which was integral to understanding this former First Son.
TJ's suicide attempt was not from the pressure of being a Hammond, instead it was the result of a broken heart. A lost love that he, at least partially, attributed to his mother. Relationships and politics can be nasty, can't they?
I've never liked Bud for his philandering ways, but I didn't find myself angry with TJ for falling for a married man. Perhaps it's because TJ loved the Senator. Unfortunately, Elaine saw every floozy that Bud slept with in her son. And, because of that, among other reasons, she wouldn't help him. TJ was left crushed.
TJ's suicide attempt was out of despair. After finally finding happiness in his post-White House years, it was taken away from him for politics. In the present day, he again found happiness with the club and he was again disappointed this time by his family.
The dinner before the club opening went horribly wrong. Up until that point, I appreciated the writing on Political Animals and the show's direction. But Bud and Elaine's reaction didn't ring entirely authentic to me. There are plenty of scenes leading up to the dinner to support their reactions, but they just seemed off.
No wonder TJ is messed up. The biggest night of his life and not only did his father belittle his accomplishment, but he abandoned his son as well. Then, Elaine jumped to a conclusion without giving TJ the opportunity to explain and gave up on him. All this after he remained clean for weeks, was working with a sober partner and was so proud of his club.
If Bud didn't want to attend the opening, he didn't need to crush TJ in order to get out of it. While his criticism was reminiscent of their conversation at the engagement party, Bud spewing those cruel words on what was supposed to be a happy day was shocking.
And Elaine. Wow. Talk about overreacting. She should be ashamed of herself for letting TJ down on this important day. He needed positive reinforcement, not a decimation of his character and dream. Her response was just too over the top to be believable.
Yes, individuals are responsible for their own lives, but TJ's family should feel enormous guilt over his drug overdose. When he needed them for the biggest accomplishment of his life, they abandoned him and crushed what little self-esteem he had gained over the previous few weeks.
I hope TJ survives because I not only like him, but his death would be a dark cloud that would permanently infect the story.
Odds and Ends
- Georgia isn't as naive as she has been portrayed. Nice move with the Anne interview and an even better move to get the byline on Susan's story.
- After last Sunday's Doug and Susan confrontation, I wasn't sure how they'd work together successfully. They actually seem more alike that I expected ... almost too much. Will Susan come between Doug and Anne?
- Will Bud be able to stop his womanizing? Very self-serving that he decided to stop now when he is divorced and his true love, Elaine, is potentially headed to the White House.
- Elaine really does support doing the right thing. Using her presidential race to save 100 Chinese submariners was a gutsy move, but the humane one. Will it cost her politically? If it does, I don't think she'd even care which is heartening to see in a potential future President.
- The way TJ's suicide attempt and overdose were shot and edited was brilliantly done. It captured the essence of both events and the emotions well. It was heartbreaking to see first Elaine and then Bud find TJ in those situations.
Is TJ's relapse entirely his fault or does his family deserve some of the blame? Will Garcetti be able to stop Elaine before her campaign even starts?