Widescreen: The Emmy win I want won't be on Sunday's telecast

  • Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) runs for student body president in the first season of "The Politician."

    Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) runs for student body president in the first season of "The Politician." Netflix

Posted9/18/2020 6:00 AM

Television fans will almost certainly find something to like about this year's Emmys, airing at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, on ABC, with expanded categories and a diverse slate of nominees. Chances are at least one of your faves is going to win something -- although those chances improve greatly if "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Saturday Night Live" or "Schitt's Creek" is your fave.

This year, the award to which I'm most looking forward doesn't have famous names competing for it, and chances are it won't even be on the telecast.


"The Politician," Netflix's toothless satire from the "Glee" team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Mount Prospect native Ian Brennan, is a beautiful curiosity that gets by on Ben Platt's likable lead performance (and occasional singing) and earned a guest-actress comedy nomination for Bette Midler's appearance in the Season 1 finale. (Her New York spin doctor was promoted to series regular in Season 2.)

While the writing wasn't award-worthy, "The Politician" did give us a few moments of bliss in every single episode: its opening title sequence. A team led by creative directors Heidi Berg and Felix Soletic should claim the main title design Emmy (yes, that's a thing) for their vision of student-body presidential candidate Payton Hobart as a wooden sculpture whose chest contains tiny shelves and compartments holding objects important to the character.

The wooden figure gets its edges sanded down and a coat of lacquer, and then clothes make the man, literally. Platt flexes his fingers, looks directly into the camera, and we promise to never again click "Skip Intro."

It's visually arresting on its own, but scoring it to Sufjan Stevens' sweeping, anthemic 2005 song "Chicago" puts it over the top. (Can we get that guy a retroactive Grammy while we're at it?)

"The Politician" isn't essential viewing, but its opening titles are. I didn't mind the binge session happening just feet away from my home office because I got to see that little marvel of filmmaking every hour.

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