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Politics As Usual

By Alyssa Rosenberg

"Politics As Usual"

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As I’ve mentioned before, I loved the early episodes of The Killing, and still think Mireille Enos is a strong contender for an Emmy. Michelle Forbes is getting more buzz, but her role’s much more conventional and much less interesting—there are a lot of awards for grieving actresses, but fewer for hard ones. It’s fascinating watching her character do things that real people do, like mess up and leave the photos of a body in plain sight of the victim’s family, then lunge clumsily to close the door after she realizes what she’s done; or when she awkwardly reunites with her fiance, after delaying her move to California because of her involvement with the murder investigation.

But I’ve been vexed by how predictable the political storyline has become. I hate the way American or American-Canadian productions always assume the most interesting thing about politics is campaigns, and that the most interesting parts of campaigns are interactions with shady donors and foaming-at-the-mic reporters, when actually it’s the deep game, the ugly decisions made by staff and kept as secrets by staff, the  masterful procedural moves by players deeply versed in rules and bureaucracy. I think that’s what I love about the politics of State of Play so much, the fact that the story happens in committee rooms and members’ dining rooms, out of the electoral season and in fact, on the sidelines of grand debates. There’s a tolerance for that, and an ability to see the richness of it.

Instead, we’ve got Bill Campbell playing Darren Richmond with an exhausting, brittle rectitude. The character may have a past, but it’s not really playing out in the way he presents himself: I want to see him get hysterical over Rosie Larsen’s death, want to know what really happened to his wife, want him to exhibit some personalized desire for power. I don’t know who he is, or what he stands for, and the pale flame of righteousness starves without that kind of character-emitted oxygen.

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