Is that redundant? Like can’t you just put “Gwyneth Paltrow” in the title and assume that everyone else will know that the words “wealth” and “privilege” will follow? This is the cover of the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter featuring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Platt, the stars of Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series, The Politician. It’s the first release of the Ryan Murphy Netflix era. So of course there’s a lot of interest. There’s also a lot of interest because Ryan presciently came up with a college admissions scandal mention before the college admissions scandal actually happened. The Politician, then, like most Ryan Murphy productions is both ahead of its time and right on time.
The show is about a young man, played by Ben, who’s trying to get to the White House on his own merit. Sort of. It’s also a “class takedown”, an interrogation of privilege. Which makes Gwyneth’s involvement – she plays Ben’s stepmother, and in some scenes she wears $10 million of jewellery – either brilliant casting or insulting casting. How can a story that aims to criticise those with such a steep advantage star someone who has had such a steep advantage?
Well, Brad Falchuk is one of the co-creators. He claims he had to convince her to take on the role. Because, as she has said, acting is not her priority anymore. She’s running goop, she’s so busy with goop. But in the end she wanted to be part of his vision. And so we’ll soon meet Gwyneth as “Georgina, a warm but ultra-privileged woman who utters lines like, "This negative energy is not good for your father's healing”. Yep. That tracks. Not only because you believe that G would totally say that but because she’s actually a good actor. You know what’s going to happen then, right? Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Murphy, Netflix, delivering killer lines dripping in couture and gems – Gwyneth Paltrow is going to go viral, they’re going to meme the sh-t out of her, she’s going to be the new Alexis Carrington, Lady Olenna, Lucille Bluth. She’s going to win again. But then again, when has G ever lost?
Gwyneth is peak privilege, when you’re so privileged, there’s no awareness. That comes through in this piece, many times. To the point where it’s impossible not to laugh. Here’s an example:
Paltrow, herself the daughter of Hollywood royalty Blythe Danner and the late director Bruce Paltrow, says the cheating scandal is emblematic of the problems with excess wealth, something her husband has strong views on. "Brad really doesn't believe in accruing generational wealth like that … because he feels like it keeps this vast difference between segments of the population," she says. "He's very progressive like that."
She says it almost like she doesn’t know anyone else who believes in class equality, LOL.
There’s more. Ryan Murphy is one of those creators who believes in spreading the credits around, so that his actors, if he’s built a show around them, are offered producer credits, which means they’re entitled to the profits. This is about acknowledging the contribution of those who inspire the story, whose talent and work are critical to how the story comes together – and it didn’t used to happen this way, so you can imagine how actors are benefiting from this opportunity. Here’s how Ben Platt took advantage of it:
Platt made use of his credit by becoming intimately involved in finding the show's all-star supporting cast, which includes Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, January Jones, Dylan McDermott and a crop of newcomers. "A lot of times you have actors with executive producer credits and it's a goof, it's not real," says Falchuk, "but Ben was a participant in all of it." Before filming, Platt invited the younger castmembers to his family's Malibu home for a weekend and later planned a cast trip to Disneyland. "Ben is an amazing leader," says Deutch, with Boynton echoing: "He orchestrated [our] getting close very quickly."
"I can't remember exactly what it was," she says. "I know I'm an executive producer; I don't know exactly what that means in this context."
She explains later that she has enough to do with goop etc that she wasn’t looking for a project that required more from her than working on her character. Which also extends to promotion. Netflix has been putting on screenings for The Politician to generate word of mouth ahead of its premiere. Gwyneth showed up to the one in the Hamptons because she spends her summers there:
"I'm definitely going to do some promotion," she says. "As little as I can get away with, but still."
This role was made for her. The Politician premiers on September 27 – which also happens to be Gwyneth’s birthday.
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