Four months before a US presidential election and along comes a show that asks the viewers to imagine a celebrity president running on a ticket of fear, with a campaign pitch of “America First”, and whose best friends are some of the world’s most dangerous despots. Hmm, wherever did that idea come from?
In fact, the idea predates the current president as it is drawn from a 2004 Philip Roth novel. In the FT Max McGuinness says that the adaptors, David Simon and Ed Burns (who made the Baltimore police-and-drugs classic The Wire), “wisely keep the focus on Roth’s reimagined vision of the past while gently amplifying contemporary echoes.” The series, he says, “depicts a progressive unravelling of civilised norms behind a facade of relentlessly chipper patriotism… Clever use of newsreel footage and radio broadcasts further contributes to a heightened sense of plausibility.” In The New York Times James Poniewozik says that David Simon hasn’t changed much of Philip Roth’s story, “but where he has, it’s to emphasize that the charismatic bigot in the White House is not simply an aberration who can be erased and forgotten like a bad dream.” The Telegraph’s Anita Singh thinks it’s a “slow-burning start for this six-part drama… but the sense of foreboding builds.” She thinks its brilliance is “in the way it conveys the creep of fascism. It’s in the ether… as an alternative history lesson, it is frightening and compelling.”
Prophetic and timely, The Plot, has been carefully engineered so as not to over-egg contemporary resonance, and for that it is all the stronger. We reckon this is a Must on many levels.
First shown March 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.