Mild spoilers ahead for the first episode of “The Politician” season 2.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s love interest in the second season of “The Politician” will seem quite familiar to Hollywood insiders and film fans — given the character is a direct send-up of Annapurna Pictures founder and Oracle heiress Megan Ellison.
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Created by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, season two of the Netflix series dropped Friday. The premiere finds Paltrow’s Santa Barbara matriarch Georgina Hobart as a candidate for governor of California, whose campaign is backed by a strong-willed, elusive billionaire movie mogul.
In a phonetic wink, the character is called Alison Mendelsohn. She becomes hot and heavy with Paltrow after a chance encounter at a “Game of Thrones” finale viewing party at her Malibu mansion, where Mendelsohn erupts in rage over the fate of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen.
The “Game of Thrones” reaction is borrowed directly from Ellison, a producer and financier behind Oscar winners like “Her” and “Phantom Thread,” whose savage tweets about the May 2019 conclusion of the HBO smash inspired headlines. She took particular issue with the show’s lens on female power.
“David Benioff and D.B. Weiss just ruined 30 years of George R.R. Martin’s work in 90 minutes,” Ellison tweeted at the time. “They are obviously sexist fucks and obviously NOTHING without George R.R. Martin. There was no motivation for Daenerys to lay King’s Landing low after a lifetime of her saving innocents.” She later couched the tweets as “a touch emotional and harsh.”
Mendelsohn is played by actress Kelly Fulton, who very much embodies Ellison’s minimalist luxury aesthetic and cropped hair. Aside from the obvious similarities, the show makes a sly dig at Annapurna’s wining and dining of awards voters.
In a scene set again in Malibu, Mendelsohn and Paltrow’s Hobart have a squabble at a cocktail party hosted for show business guild and film academy members. Paltrow is over the hobnobbing, and her benefactor asks what’s so different about campaigning for Oscars versus campaigning for office.
“Why are my voters so awful, and yours are so perfect?” asks the Ellison ringer. Paltrow explains the difference, “I want to help my voters, and you want your voters to help you.”
In real life, Ellison has never backed any political campaigns (though her father Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, has had an interesting go of it supporting Trump). Representatives for Ellison and Murphy had no immediate comment on the character.
It should be noted that Ellison is not the only spoof on display in this series. Paltrow’s husband Falchuk has lovingly enabled his wife to play what feels like self-deprecation and self-celebration at the same time. Hobart’s gubernatorial stump speech could easily be ripped from the blog posts and podcasts of Goop, Paltrow’s polarizing lifestyle and wellness empire.
“We are in a climate emergency!” Paltrow laments in character to Mendelsohn, as they lounge in oversized quilted leather pod chairs and smoke from an elaborate hookah. “California emission standards are being threatened. Our agribusinesses can’t find workers. Wild fire season is year round, and manufacturers are abusing our lax organic labeling laws!”
Clad in Oscar de le Renta jumpsuits and wild kaftans, Paltrow is at her full power living this fun house version of herself, giving a sore reminder of what audiences are missing in her acting retirement.
The second season of “The Politician” is currently streaming on Netflix.
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