You can admit it or ignore it but the characters in the new USA Network mini-series Political Animals strike awfully close to home -- Bill and Hillary Clinton's home. If you have a situation where a president has served as many terms as he can and was the subject of sexual gossip and innuendos throughout his terms, it sounds like Bill Clinton. Add to that if you have the wife of this man running for president and losing, only to end up serving as Secretary of State, it sounds like Hillary Clinton. In the series they are called Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hines) and Elaine Barrish Hammond (Sigourney Weaver).
This show also throws in a dutiful son, Douglas, played blandly by James Wolk. The Hammonds also have a younger son, JT, who is played blandly by Sebastian Stan. Then there is Elaine's mother, a former showgirl named Margaret, who is played over the top by Ellen Burstyn. In a return to his role in Heroes, Adrian Pasdar creepily plays the president.
Creator/Director Greg Berlanti attempts to make this a timely and hard-hitting drama by making some political statements, but it is a soap opera from start to finish. You have more sexual trysts and conniving cheaters than you can shake a stick at, but with Weaver and Hines handling the heavy lifting in the acting department it all stays interesting. In the future even these two talented people may get overwhelmed by the cheesiness of it all.
Political Animals has only six episodes created for this season. If successful in the ratings it might come back for another season. It can go either way. If it can capture the interest of its audience by being slick and suspenseful like the new Dallas then it will earn more episodes. If it tries to live off the Clinton connection it could just crash and burn. Then it would just be a curiosity piece good for six episodes only.
Weaver and Hines should be front and center on the action. Carla Gugino is a good actress and is worthy of some screen time as the inquisitive reporter Susan Berg. There is good chemistry between her and Weaver. Burstyn is good at providing comic relief. So far both Wolk and Stan haven't shown any spark that would earn them more air time.
Political Animals is a good try at something out of the ordinary for USA. This isn't just light summer fare as in Royal Pains and White Collar. Animals also has more profanity, nudity and sexual situations than either of those two shows. This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective.
In any case Political Animals deserves another viewing before you opt whether to sign on for all six episodes or decide it isn't worth the effort.
Political Animals airs Sundays at 10PM on the USA Network.