Leave it to Netflix to pull off what might be the most spectacular troll with their billboards for The Politician. Ads for the new Ryan Murphy series, which focuses on a contentious presidential race at a wealthy Santa Barbara high school, have been popping up near a certain college campus in the midst of a very public scandal. Twitter, of course, went all conspiracy theorist, questioning the connection. And yes there is one. The Politician billboards are a nod to the college admissions scandal.
It seems like that's why so many billboards have been placed near the University Of Southern California campus. Back in March, The New York Times reported that nearly 50 people were accused of alleged bribery to get their children into elite colleges or universities. This included Full House star Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli who allegedly paid $500,000 for their daughters to be admitted to USC on crew scholarships despite neither having played the sport. In April, Loughlin and Giannulli both plead not guilty to charges of fraud conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy.
The billboards in question feature a smirking Gwyneth Paltrow, the ultra privileged mom of presidential hopeful Payton (Ben Platt) who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her son win. "I bought their way in too," the pink posters, which feature her other two less impressive sons, reads.
It didn't take long for USC students to get the joke. "Well played Netflix," user @MC_Jazz_Hands tweeted. "Netflix got jokes," another user named @OneTokenBlack wrote. "This is next level," the @uscpsycho account added.
But, there's actually another level to this poster. Look close at the boys in the billboards near USC and you'll see they're wearing cardinal and gold, which just so happen to be the university's official colors.
Billboards for The Politician have also popped up near other well-known universities including New York University, UCLA, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Georgetown, a school that was named in the scandal, per The New York Times. In each of those posters, the boys are wearing the colors of the school they're placed near. Next level, indeed.
For now, though, it's the USC billboards that are getting the most attention. Most of those who have tweeted about them seem to be in on the joke. "Netflix put about a dozen of these up near USC, making sure that none of us can go 24 hours without thinking about (1) our sins and (2) ryan murphy," user @Kylieisn'tfunny joked.
Murphy's The Politician, streaming Sept. 27, is a political satire that specifically pokes fun at the one percent. The show even predicted the college cheating scandal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the premiere, which was filmed eight months before the scandal broke, Paltrow's character reveals she bought her sons' way into Harvard.
But Murphy was sympathetic to what Loughlin and the other parents allegedly did. "Do I agree with what they did? No. Do I understand what they did? Yes," he told THR. "I think it's all out of a love of your child, and I think that the system has gone so crazy."
And it appears Netflix is just crazy enough to use the college admission scandal as a way to promote their new show.