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Ben Platt On How His Netflix Series ‘The Politician’ Is a Premonition of College Cheating Scandal

Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Ryan Murphy asked Tony winner Ben Platt to star in his first Netflix series “The Politician” in summer 2017, after watching the Broadway prodigy perform on stage in “Dear Evan Hansen” that same year.

Murphy and Platt’s meeting pre-dated the headline-dominating college admissions scam by nearly two years, but the dark comedy, which debuts Sept. 27, carries eerily similar themes to the scandal that saw celebrity parents, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, cheat their kids’ way into high-profile universities

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“It’s like a premonition,” Platt said while chatting to Variety about “The Politician’s” parallels to the college cheating scandal on Tuesday night at a special screening of the season premiere in New York City. “Ryan [Murphy] is always a few steps ahead of the curve so it doesn’t surprise me, but when it was happening, it was crazy. He was texting me like, ‘Can you believe that this is what our show is about?'”

Platt, who also serves as an executive producer on the series, says his upbringing in Los Angeles gave him some familiarity with how to approach the series’ over-the-top storylines and his character, Payton Hobart, a student with generational money in Santa Barbara who has known since he was 7 years old that he wants to be the president of the United States, but first has to navigate the politics of his high school’s student election.

“I grew up in L.A. in a very wealthy community, so I certainly saw it happen all the time,” Platt said, when talking about the college cheating scandal. Platt, the son of Oscar-nominated producer Marc Platt, attended the prestigious private school Harvard-Westlake, along with “Booksmart” actress Beanie Feldstein, who was among the guests at the series sneak peek on Tuesday.

While the show has heavily satirical dialogue, scenery and storylines, Platt believes that the subtle social commentary in the show is universal to the social media obsessed world that young generations navigate today.

“For me, the most fascinating part of this is authenticity versus fake authenticity and how much does that matter? I think that’s really going to resonate with young people a lot,” Platt expressed. “And then, also, I think there’s this subliminal social message of this assumed world where everybody is somewhere on the scale of gender fluidity and sexual fluidity and social normalism.”

Other high-profile attendees included Gayle King, Anna Wintour, Tina Brown, Grace Gummer, Sandra Bernhard, “Stranger Things” star Natalia Dyer, “Younger’s” Jennifer Westfeldt, “Good Day New York” anchor Rosanna Scotto and “Mr. Robot’s” Carly Chaikin.

As for the Tuesday event, which started in the screening room at the chic boutique Whitby Hotel in midtown Manhattan and carried on to Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar, guests — including cast members Lucy Boynton, David Corenswet, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones and Julia Schlaepfer — sipped on champagne and dined on crab, lobster and shrimp cocktail at the raw bar.

Murphy was unable to attend, but for a good reason. He was working on “Ratched,” another one of his Netflix series to fall under his mega-deal with the streamer. Party organizer and power publicist Peggy Siegal, who recently spoke to the New York Times about her scrutinized association with Jeffrey Epstein, also did not attend the Netflix event, as she was on vacation in Europe.

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