Ryan Murphy’s 2019 Netflix series The Politician, is queer. And I mean VERY queer. In a series called a mashup of The Royal Tenenbaums, Glee, and Election (I would also add 90210 with a dash of Clueless and a dollop of House of Cards), all of the the central characters are queer…and mostly super rich.
Watching yet another show about rich teens as an adult is like watching my American dream turn into my American reality. My partner, who is a Bosnian Muslim refugee and who came to the United States in her early teens during the 90s in the middle of the Bosnian war, always shakes her head when we watch shows like The Politician or reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the camera pans on the characters’ homes and cars. She grew up in Sarajevo consuming a lot of U.S. media, and thought that everyone in the U.S. was rich. So, when her family escaped to Croatia and learned they would be resettled in the U.S., she thought she would be moving into a mansion and driving a drop-top Jeep in no time.
She arrived to the U.S., and soon learned the truth: hardly anyone has 90210 wealth, and most Americans are struggling. My experience was different. I grew up in the U.S. in poverty, so I knew most people were not wealthy here, But, because I consumed the same media, I thought it was only a matter of time and hard work before I too would move into a mansion and drive a drop-top Jeep. Turns out we were both wrong.
So, what do I like about The Politician? Aside from the fact that they took a very formulaic “rich teen” series and disrupted the narrative by giving queer teen characters – those who were usually the social outcasts, the butt of “that’s so gay” jokes, or maybe not even represented at all – the power and popularity, it also disrupts our own communities’ narrative that there is only one way to present queer, particularly through fashion.
When I came out, I tried so hard to fit in as queer. I tried to wear skinny jeans and leather vests. But, none of those items of clothing affirmed my identity. I felt like a fraud. I felt uncomfortable. I felt like I went out of one closet and into another, and the clothing in the second closet was just hideous. The hard prep style of the characters in The Politician demonstrate that the range of queer style extends beyond bow-ties, suspenders, and asymmetrical haircuts (which are all fab, but just not for everyone). It shows that there is no right way to dress queer, but there are many ways to dress fiercely queer, subverting all cliché fashion tropes.