Ryan Murphy introduces us not just to a new actor in his latest offering The Politician, he also gives us a dreamy director and screen writer who is poised to be the next big star.
The first time River Barkley is revealed in Ryan Murphy’s newest Netflix series, The Politician, he is putting on his boxer shorts. It is a post coital tristesse scene with onscreen girlfriend, Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton). During this introduction, it is difficult to ignore River’s physicality. His features are the kind people fall in love with immediately and are the kind celebrities and models have been using to amass fans and wealth. The new name you need to remember is David Corenswet, the actor who plays River Barkley. He is the prototype TV, movie and streaming star—tall, dreamy, good skin with just the right amount of facial and body hair. His first scene also reveals that David has been clocking in some time at the gym. He is medium built and is the kind that makes clothes look good. Most guys will also suffer from hair envy because David has the most perfect wavy, soft hair. During his first scene, he opens up to Astrid about the absence of feelings and love during their sexual encounters, which now shows the sensitive nature of his character. This attribute usually hooks people. David’s deep, manly voice is also revealed and automatically, you forget about his appearance and instead you focus on the character he is portraying so skillfully.
River Barkley is not your typical high school student who grew up in middle America. He comes from an affluent family who amassed wealth from his diplomat parents that worked overseas. For international kids like River who grew up moving from country to country, there is no real sense of home or permanence. His time in Shanghai, however, allowed him to learn Mandarin, the reason he gets to meet Payton Hobart, the lead character in The Politician. What is typical about River, however, is his discovery of early adulthood. He is battling with an unseen future after high school, a lousy sex-life with his girlfriend, and finding his place in this world while suffering from depression. During a debate against Payton for student body president in the pilot episode, River tells the story of his attempt at taking his own life as a means to inspire Santa Barbara High School. His goal was to let the students know that they are not alone in this difficult life stage and directed it especially to people who could potentially have mental illnesses. While honest and authentic, it is debatable whether or not this strategy was an attempt to win votes, but his less stiff appearance and closer proximity to the audience during his elocution was both convincing and sympathetic.
Payton and River’s relationship is a unique one. Payton knew from an early age that he wanted to be the next president of the United States. He wore perfect fitting suits, tapered trousers paired only with sneakers. He had the mannerisms and nuances of many former presidents and spoke very well in public. He also had the grades but struggled in Mandarin. River would be hired to be his Chinese tutor by his mother Georgina Payton (Gwyneth Paltrow) and they would develop a relationship that would be both platonic and romantic at the same time. What was never absent throughout the eight-episode series, however, was care for one another. So, imagine Payton’s anger and frustration when River wins the sympathy of the high school students after his elocution. Immediately after, Payton storms to River’s home to confront him about his motive to run against him for the presidency. Looking out the window and contemplating on his life, River is the opposite of a hysterical Payton. River tells Payton that he loves him and then shoots a bullet into his mouth. He was unable to overcome his depression.
Ryan Murphy’s genius lies in his ability to make people fall in love with characters in one episode and as soon as you fall in love with them, they are taken away. In The Politician, while River takes his own life almost immediately, his character is a mainstay and makes appearances throughout the entire season as a ghost. Because of their unique love for one another, River is present and is always guiding Payton in the most crucial moments and shifts to become his voice of reason. In a poignant scene, he wipes Payton’s tears and tells him he is going to change the world. River is completely aware that he is no longer in the same life as Ben Platt, who plays the role of Payton, struggles to shift from fantasy and the biting reality that the love of his life is no longer around.
Just like many of the cast members of The Politician, David Corenswet is a relatively new actor, but has played minor roles in the political shows Affairs of State and House of Cards. He is also seen in Instinct and Elementary. The 26-year-old, Philadelphia resident originally auditioned for the role of Ricardo (Benjamin Bratt), the junky boyfriend of Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch) who plays a pivotal role in the Netflix series. While he is a newbie, David can already be considered a triple threat. He is currently a screenwriter, director and editor and most probably got the training after attending the prestigious Juilliard in New York City.
Apart from his good looks and impeccable style, the acting of David Corenswet is the most admirable. Instead of being just eye-candy, David takes us into his character so convincingly that you forget about David and fall instead for River and his authenticity, sensitivity and kindness. David is a brilliant actor and is considered to be one of the top actors to watch out for on the streaming app. After his compelling performance in The Politician, it is no surprise that he was casted for this pivotal role and very soon for another show also by Ryan Murphy. Don’t forget, the name is David Corenswet.