From throuple double crossings to heartfelt speeches about climate change, there are many great moments in The Politician Season 2. But there’s one plot line that just gets it, that drills down into something painfully, hilariously true. McAfee’s (Laura Dreyfuss) meltdown over Kayley Cuoco’s Instagram perfectly captures the exasperation of professionally obsessed Millennials.
By the time McAfee stumbles onto Kayley Cuoco’s Instagram she’s already hit her limit, and then some. As The Politician mentions, McAfee catapulted herself through undergrad in three years, sacrificing sleep and her own mental health. But all of that work was nothing compared to working on Payton Hobart’s (Ben Platt) campaign. This series has always been happy to show McAfee at her most brilliant during strategy meetings, but for one brief minute we get to see the work and sacrifice that come with that brilliance.
As McAfee narrates, “Conscious Unthroupling” sorts between countless nights that all look exactly the same: McAfee, James (Theo Germaine), and Skye (Rahne Jones) eating pizza in their dorms and watching Netflix until they pass out. There is no laughter, no steamy hookups, no room for the introspective monologues Payton seems to bathe in. There’s only work, Netflix, and sleep.
In this moment, looking at the star of The Big Bang Theory on a date, McAfee realizes the full weight of what she’s sacrificed for Payton. She hasn’t just sacrificed intense yoga sessions, drunken nights out with friends, and one night stands. She’s sacrificed herself. Now, defined by the three-headed dragon that is the behind-the-scenes crew of the Payton Hobart campaign, McAfee can no longer recognize who she is.
On a surface level someone realizing the amount they’ve sacrificed for their career isn’t revolutionary, nor is it bound to one generation. Dede Standish’s (Judith Light) Chief of Staff Hadassah Gold (Bette Midler) has an eerily similar journey to McAfee’s. After working for years for one candidate and putting their own lives on hold, both women finally see just how much they’ve given to their jobs. One major difference is that McAfee only put in a few years before coming to their epiphany, whereas Hadassah put in decades.
The other major difference is what triggers both of these women to rethink their lives and priorities. For Hadassah it is the jaw-dropping revelation that the candidate she sacrificed everything for was sitting on a major secret. And for McAfee that moment was triggered by the most FOMO-generating devices in modern history — Instagram.
And how does she respond to this core-shaking bomb? Through the language Millennials and Gen Z know best: casual sex. “I am removing myself from this toxic friend triangle and I am going on a date with someone from Tinder,” McAfee screams to James and Skye. “And then I’m going to have sex with that person. Goodbye!”
McAfee then proceeds to do that very thing. Of course, it helps nothing. By the episode’s end McAfee has reverted back to toxic friendships and being defined by work. But for one blissful second she almost had a chance to reclaim herself. And it was all thanks to a random star’s social post and Tinder.