HBO must be getting desperate nowadays. HBO Max was already planning a West Wing reunion pretty much telling people to vote Democrat, but it looks like the main network is starting the political nightmare a little early. If you couldn’t stand liberals before, you will downright despise these Coastal Elites.
The September 12 special follows five distinct characters in Trump’s America in 2020. There’s angry New Yorker Miriam Nessler (Bette Midler), budding actor Mark Hesterman (Dan Levy), activist Callie Josephson (Issa Rae), YouTube personality Clarissa Montgomery (Sarah Paulson), and active nurse Sharynn Tarrows (Kaitlyn Dever). Each person is supposed to give a monologue on a “different” perspective in America, but, if the actors are any indication, it’s pretty much all wrapped up in Orange Man Bad.
Take Miriam, for example. She’s a liberal Jewish New Yorker who is so mad at the president that she can’t even utter his name. In fact, her monologue is about how she was arrested for getting into a fight with a Trump supporter and stealing his MAGA hat. Judging from her first description of the president, it’s pretty much a legitimate case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Miriam: So, I pick up the paper. See, there’s a reason it’s called “The paper.” Only there he is. His face above the fold. Him. You know who I’m talking about. I can’t even stand to say his name, because I’m a New Yorker, and we always hated him. And it wasn’t just the lying and the hair and the ugly buildings. Oh my God, no. He has no style. He has no sense of humor! He tore down Bonwit Teller in the middle of the night! He wouldn’t rent to Black people! Move to the Kremlin, you son of a bitch! Ugh. I didn’t say that. But yes, I did.
The others manage to be even more out-of-touch than that if it can be believed. Mark is an incredibly gay actor mad about LGBT representation in movies and having to see Mike Pence speak. Callie is a wealthy activist mad about the fact that she happens to know Ivanka Trump. Clarissa is mortified having to talk with relatives who disagree with her politically. It’s like the writer never met a person outside of Los Angeles or New York City.
The only reasonable position comes from Sharynn, who works during the height of the pandemic. She could have been a decent perspective at this time until even her monologue dives into a Trump jab.
Sharynn: And I– I take her vitals and she’s– she’s got this terrible look on her face, and I ask, “Miriam, what’s wrong?” And she points to the– to the TV hanging up on the wall. And it’s one of those White House press briefings, and the president’s talking about how great everything is, and what an amazing job he’s doing. And Miriam’s wheezing, and she says, “I need Advil, the bedpan, and a gun.” I just said, “Miriam, we’re– we’re turning this off,” and she won’t give me the remote, and then we both hear him talking about how we can maybe start injecting ourselves with– with disinfectant or bleach, and she says, “What is he talking about? Is he talking about cleaning products? Is– is it a Jewish disease?” (Chuckles) And then she tells me, “I need 800 milligrams of Lemon Pledge, stat.”
This film is supposed to be a satire, but the only thing funny about it is the dead seriousness with which these actors play their monologues. There is no sense of ridiculousness when Miriam cries about her deep hatred for Trump. There’s genuine solemnity when Mark describes having to see Mike Pence. There’s a sense of superiority when Callie degrades Ivanka for the mere crime of being the president’s daughter. There’s a paranoia when Clarissa describes her family’s politics. There’s a depression when Sharynn talks about her Trump-hating COVID patient.
It’s clear that none of this is supposed to be anything more than a liberal screed for the 2020 election. Bette Midler herself called the filming of her scene “cathartic” though she’s “still in a state of rage and anxiety.” And you know it’s bad when even Salon thinks this special is a mess.
Coastal Elites is essentially the equivalent of a 90-minute adult temper tantrum. It’s every self-absorbed, tone-deaf, left-leaning wail that we’ve been hearing for the past four years that never seems to grow old with these people. If anything, it only makes me more motivated to vote in November, and know I’m not the only one.