To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Netflix’s new series The Politician. While I absolutely adore Ben Platt, I have not yet decided to worship at the altar of producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. But, a star studded cast, and some ingenious marketing helped me decide to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, and binge-watched the entire series. One of the (many) stand-out performances is by actor Theo Germaine who plays James.
Photo above: Theo Germaine as James in The Politician. Courtesy of Netflix.
Germaine, a trans actor, is not portraying a trans character—at least, not in any way that’s mentioned. This fact alone makes The Politician both unique and a series that is at the forefront of a very important issue.
Everyone talks about equality. So many series have claimed they are LGBT inclusive, but most of their ideas of inclusion are some hot lesbians or a quick nod at a bisexual male, who, after a brief, but passionate make-out session with a man, usually ends up with a woman. Murphy and Falchuk write characters that are real and relatable. He’s also one of (if not the only) producer giving trans actors the chance to portray non-transgender characters like James, Ben Platt’s politically ambitious Payton Hobart’s right-hand man.
With all of this delicious diversity, it’s no big deal that Germaine is trans — which is, itself, kind of a big deal.
“Everybody in the show is just kinda fluid, and kind of all over the place, but nothing is specifically talked about,” Germaine said during a recent interview with IndieWire. “Which was kinda scary at first, because I’m so used to having to label myself.”
“So many auditions for trans characters feel stale, or it’s all about the moment of coming out, or it’s about the point at which somebody is in their transition,” he said. “To not have any of those things be part of the reality was like, ‘OK, how do I take that hat off and just be an actor and just get to do this thing? I kept thinking, ‘Oh, this is what it must be like for cisgender people, who don’t have to always be like, ‘Yep, I’m trans.’”
James is a neurotic, obnoxious, and fiercely loyal friend to Payton. He’s sort of his David Axelrod (the Chief Strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns). A graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he’s done theatre in Chicago and is already slated to appear in two more projects this year’s Adam and Work in Progress.
Germaine told the Chicago Tribune that the casting was fast and was done via recording: “I was working at Wormhole coffee shop in Wicker Park and received a call on a Tuesday. My agency — I work with Gray Talent in Chicago — they were like: ‘Hey, there’s a self-tape request, we don’t have a ton of information about this project, it’s super-secretive, but it’s this new Netflix show called The Politician from Ryan Murphy.’ So I did all the research that I could, and two days later went into the office and did a self-tape.”
By Monday, Germaine was “clocking out of work at the coffee shop and got a call and they were like, ‘We don’t know how this happened already but you have an offer, you booked it.’”
I expect great things from him. And as for Ryan Murphy, The Politician, has definitely brought me one step closer to jumping his bandwagon.