I know art is subjective and all that, but this dystopian mini-series, Republican National Convention, is kinda terrible. It’s just super unrealistic. Last night’s episode, “Make America Witch Trials Again,” for example, showcased its characters acting less like rational, compassionate citizens of a democratic superpower, and more like a cartoon mob. It’s also just … boring. The first half hour of “Make America Witch Trials Again” showed this character who’s supposed to be the leader of the entire Republican Party, Paul Ryan, standing on a stage with his jaw clenched waiting for someone to explain to Alaska why they had to vote for Donald Trump even though the state’s voters didn’t really vote for Donald Trump. Pretty uninspiring for a mini-series that promised to be the Greatest Show on Earth.
The press for this episode promised it would focus on putting Americans back to work again (despite the fact that American unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2008??), but no character in the entire episode even mentioned Donald Trump’s jobs plan or economic policy. The episode didn’t even focus on the show’s main character at all! He phoned in on Skype and spoke on the jumbotron from an entirely different city to promise to win the election, but that was all. In fact, “Make America Witch Trials Again” actually spent the majority of the off-screen political rivale who won’t even make a single appearance in this series.
What’s more, the writing continues to be threadbare. The main character’s children appeared last night and, like his wife the night before, couldn’t think of a single story to humanize him. A well-timed word of encouragment, a hug, a word of encouragement, that time he took everyone for ice cream, or the year he dressed up as Santa for the school Christmas party when Jessica Jenkins’ dad had to drop out because he had the flu. The writers didn’t give any of the Trump children any dialogue that colored in the lines of the MAIN CHARACTER ON THE SHOW. It’s like if Mad Men only had Don Draper call in to Sterling Cooper for a two-minute conference call every other episode. Such a weird narrative choice. The Trump kids took turns talking about how awesome it feels to succeed and to bask in the glory of their father’s success and the ways each of them inspired him to succeed in the first place. The audience is really supposed to believe this entire family is made up of unprincipled egomaniacs? Come on.
90 minutes into the humdrum episode — again, it pushes the limits of plausibility that the best speakers the presidential candidate of a major political party can pull in at the national convention on the night he clinched the nomination is the manager of a vineyard the guy owns, his one-dimensional robot children, and a dude whose credentials are literally “fight prompter who is a friend of Trump”— the Speaker of the House gets up to talk about why everyone should vote for the GOP candidate. The most glowing praise he can offer is that Trump will push through the regressive social policies of the party and halt the flow of progress initiated by the current president. Even the crowd doesn’t give a fuck. Every time the editor cuts in a shot of them, they’re yawning or on their phones or talking to their neighbors. There’s a steady buzz of disinterested chatter the entire episode.
The only thing that excites the crowd is when a guy with a backstory more convoluted than last episode’s Duck Whistle King takes the stage. This character is so dumb. His name is “Chris Christie” and I guess he’s playing the governor of New Jersey who just pled guilty to felony bribery, and he has arrived to conduct a “trial” to see if the opposing party’s candidate should be jailed. In a democracy, okay? Allegedly the greatest democracy in history. So he yells out a couple of true things about the opposing candidate’s 20 years in politics and a whole lot of super false things about the opposing candidate’s 20 years in politics and after every accusation he asks the audience to shout, “GUILTY!” Which they do, and also take it upon themselves three different times to rise to their feet to shut down his speech and scream “LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!”
Another guy named Ben Carson comes out and literally accuses Hillary Clinton of being mentored by Satan.
Oh, and I almost forgot: At one point, this GOP leader character — who is supposed to have taken a literal million dollars from the National Rifle Association and then gone on live TV to say he wouldn’t appoint a Supreme Court Justice that wasn’t approved by a lobbying group that makes murder machines — comes onto the stage to talk about what a threat Hillary Clinton is.
This is not how citizens of a democracy behave under the instruction of their party’s most influential politicians. It’s so impossible to believe. This show should have aired on Syfy.
Tonight’s episode is called “Make America First Again.” You think they’ll light a woman on fire on national TV?