“Trump: White House — Isolation”
one-and-a-half out of four
Rating: TV-14 for language, situations and remarks audiences might find uncomfortable
Director: Stable Genius
Cast: Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Released by: U.S. Electoral College
Showing: All day, every day on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, NBS, ABC, PBS
Online: Find the review of season one here.
Of Note: This is a satirical review. “Trump: White House” is not a real TV show; it is reality.
Kaylee Brewster and Jennifer K. Bauer
The second season of “Trump: White House” arrived on screens with the ominous subtitle, “Isolation.” By last week’s season finale, viewers were the ones who were forsaken, having endured unbelievable plotlines and boorish characters with few conclusions.
The overall plot remains the same: A real estate mogul/reality TV star becomes president of the United States. Season two focuses intently on Trump. In fact, at times he seems like the only character. We see less of his family. His children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., are supposedly at work in the White House administration, but what they actually do is rarely shown. Wife Melania Trump’s appearances are few and far between, aside from the occasional international trip or visit with school children, which come off as half-hearted attempts to humanize her before she disappears again. The couple’s child does not appear in the series but is occasionally mentioned.
Not much has changed in how writers depict Trump, except to amplify his brash and stubborn behavior. We don’t see him as a father or husband, except through his payments to past mistresses, including a porn star. His main appearances are at rallies and summits. His voice is limited to angry tweets and hostile press conferences. As a result, he is an unsympathetic character with few redeeming qualities. It’s as if the writers no longer have a character, but only a caricature of the man from the first season.
D.C. lawmakers have much to say both for and against Trump’s actions, but that’s the extent of their development. They mostly serve as nonessential background characters. The incessant resignations and firings of White House staff continued this season, burdening viewers with the task of keeping track of who’s who and who is left. The show needs to get a consistent cast and stick with it if producers want to make this a legitimate series that will stand the test of time.
Storylines that veered away from this Trump-centric focus were even more far-fetched than those of season one.
In a brief multi-episode arc, Trump’s pick for United States Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, is accused of attempted rape, setting off a political storm. Just as quickly as the story begins, it ends in the most boring way possible: Kavanaugh is confirmed to the court and that was that.
Another storyline with loose ends is Trump’s effort to prevent illegal immigration by separating family members at the border. Heartbreaking scenes showed children being torn from their parents and housed in stark conditions like prisoners. Many viewers voiced disgust over the episode. It seemed the writers took the hint that they went too far. Quickly, they rewrote the rules with Trump signing an executive order to stop the practice, despite previously saying he couldn’t do that, creating a plot hole.
In another anti-climactic immigration-centered episode, Trump sends thousands of troops to the border to stop a migrant caravan of asylum seekers. Aside from the occasional tear gas bombing at the border to remind audiences of the immigration issue, the plotline has no resolution. The predicted horde siege never materializes.
Alarming situations with deflated conclusions seem to be the uniting theme of “Trump: White House — Isolation.” Remember how season one ended with the threat of a nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea? After trading insults with each other over several episodes, the president and the dictator have a historic meeting which ends in a vague agreement with no significant changes to nuclear relations. The nuclear war storyline served its purpose: distracting viewers from the fact that this series has no true substance.
Season two is stocked with other unbelievable, unprecedented presidential scenarios: the president insults Canadian, French and British allies at international meetings; agrees with Russian intelligence over U.S. reports; and gets into a trade war with China issuing tariffs that would cripple the U.S. economy — to name a few.
This season ended with a cliffhanger, Americans enduring the longest government shutdown in history with Democrats refusing to fund Trump’s proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The episode served as a lesson about the federal services Americans take for granted (airline and food safety inspections, to name two). As cliffhangers go it was a meek one, in the final minutes of the episode Trump decides to reopen the government until Feb. 15.
If all these half-baked plot lines weren’t enough, there’s one more wild card on the back burner that started in season one, a federal investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Viewers are led to believe the investigation could end the madness of Trump’s presidency (and this series?). It would also explain many of the bizarre situations writers have thrown at viewers over the last two years.
Given that this show has yet to produce a satisfying conclusion to any of its storylines, don’t hold out hope for this one.