They say hindsight is 20/20. Politicians can often come across as calculated, unauthentic, and insincere. Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate, has long been a topic of speculation throughout her career and public life. Hillary, the latest original series from Hulu, pulls back the curtain and reveals the personal life of Clinton.
Hillary traces the life of Hillary Clinton, beginning with her upbringing and college experiences, which spurred an interest in public service. Clinton, at the time Hillary Rodham, never thought she would enter a life of elected office, but she makes it clear that she learned the value of serving others. She did that by going to law school and practicing it professionally.
The documentary series also includes commentary from Bill Clinton, almost as frequently as Hillary, and he recounts how they met, fell in love, moved in with each other, and married in the 1970s. A few short years later, he would become Arkansas Attorney General and, just two years after that in 1979, Governor of the state. Hillary recounts her experiences as First Lady of Arkansas, bucking traditional expectations that the public had for her and learning how to adjust and make herself more appealing to the public — lessons she would take with her as First Lady of the nation and in other capacities since.
The bulk of the series, though, offers insight into Hillary Clinton’s time as First Lady and the scrutiny she received as Bill Clinton’s wife in the face of cheating scandals. Hillary makes it very clear that these were difficult issues to deal with and that she felt betrayed, lamenting the effects on her daughter and their family. However, she makes it clear that these were personal matters and should have been handled differently. Her decision to stay in their marriage was hers alone to make.
Hillary also reminisces on her time as First Lady. While dealing with universal health care was difficult and turned into a losing battle, she looks fondly on her time traveling, advocating for women’s rights, and passing children’s health care with the help of Senators Kennedy and Hatch.
Outside of cheating scandals, Hillary also expresses her frustration and confusion over the conspiracy theories that came up during the Clinton administration. They were being accused of murder and coverups, and this helped lead to her distrust of members of the media. Which, Hillary’s campaign team now says, hurt her as Trump embraced the media and fed off of their energy.
Also, front and center is the issue of sexism in politics and how Clinton was treated, and the comments made about her gender and appearance during her 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns.
The series pushes Hillary Clinton to reveal some of her insecurities, such as interacting with the press and how she presents herself to the public. She also admits that she is better as an elected official than she is a politician, and members of her campaign team reference her strengths and weaknesses as a candidate. They analyze the decisions she made, and the decisions the campaign made and how things could have been handled differently. They also grapple with the enigma that is Donald Trump, his cavalier approach, and how different 2016 was to other presidential elections. Despite every effort made, they could not take him on, and their attempt to make him look inexperienced failed.
The release of Hillary has some similarity to the Netflix special Mitt, focusing on the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Much like this series, Mitt presents its subject in a new light with more emotion, humor, and candor. It makes one wonder if Clinton’s and Romney’s campaign would have been more successful if they had opened themselves up more before their respective elections, as opposed to waiting for their own documentary specials.
Hillary also could not be more timely, as the United States finds itself in the middle of another presidential election. Just this past week, the final major woman candidate in the race dropped out, narrowing the field between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Both candidates are pitching themselves as the answer to Trump’s negativity and division.
If there is one thing to take away from Hillary, it is that we need to remember that public figures are people, too. They have lives and families. They have feelings, fears, and anxieties. But they also have reasons for what they do, and we should not assume the worst because we do not immediately understand them. And, despite her loss, Hillary Clinton remains optimistic about the future of this country. She is hopeful that a new generation of leaders, especially young women, will rise up and take the country in a new direction.
Hillary is now streaming on Hulu.