Political Animals is a bold, significant look at a fictional former First Family in turmoil. The provocative one-hour drama stars acclaimed actor Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish Hammond, a divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State struggling to keep her family together while dealing with the crises of the State Department and fending off the D.C. journalist (Carla Gugino) who has built her career by tearing Elaine down.
In a crowded hotel ballroom, former first lady, Governor of Illinois, and candidate for President of the United States Elaine Barrish Hammond (Sigourney Weaver) takes the stage. Surrounded by her family-mother Margaret (Ellen Burstyn), 28-year-old sons T.J. (Sebastian Stan) and Douglas (James Wolk), Douglas's girlfriend Anne (Brittany Ishibashi), and husband and former U.S. president Bud Hammond (Ciàran Hinds)-Elaine delivers her concession speech. And then, minutes after leaving the stage, Elaine takes an even more painful step: she asks her philandering husband of three decades for a divorce.
Two years later, Elaine has discovered newfound purpose and popularity as Secretary of State to her onetime rival, President Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar). Her ex-husband and his unbridled libido, on the other hand, have become something of a national joke. While reliable Douglas serves as his mother's Chief of Staff, recovering addict T.J. struggles to stay sober and round up money to invest in a nightclub. As the entire family prepares to gather for the first time since the divorce at a dinner in honor of Douglas and Anne's engagement, Elaine is confronted with a diplomatic crisis: three journalists have been detained in Iran, and the government is threatening to try them as spies and execute them within 48 hours. Though, for reasons slowly becoming clear, President Garcetti may be prepared to sit back and let it happen, but Elaine isn't.
To make matters worse, Susan Berg (Carla Gugino), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who made her name publishing scathing stories about the Hammonds, has manipulated her way into a week-long exclusive on Elaine by threatening to release a painful secret about T.J. Now Elaine must protect her family, juggle her complicated feelings for her ex-husband, and attempt to find a way to save the Iranian hostages, all while staving off the hungry reporter. It's just another day in the life of America's most powerful woman.
With the clock ticking, Elaine sends Bud to diffuse the Iranian hostage situation, throwing him back in the spotlight but also putting Douglas and Anneís engagement party in peril. Meanwhile, with his secret exposed, T.J. resorts to old habits and stoops.
Threatened by Elaineís skyrocketing popularity, Garcetti hatches a plan that finds Elaine at odds with her long-time mentor and Supreme Court Justice. Meanwhile, Susan lets Alex in on her top-secret story.
After a grueling overseas tour, Elaine returns to D.C. to find the country in a diplomatic crisis, which leaves her sparring with the Garcetti administration, driving her to make an important decision. On the night of his club opening, T.J. struggles to
In the aftermath of T.J.'s overdose, Elaine finds herself torn between staying by her son's side and handling the rescue of a Chinese submarine. Bud discovers the truth behind T.J.'s suicide attempt the previous December, and takes matters into his own hands. In exchange for keeping Susan quiet on T.J.'s overdose, Elaine grants her unlimited access to the submarine rescue mission, placing her at the front of the action, and leaving Douglas to cross a boundary that could jeopardize his future.
President Garcetti (recurring guest star ADRIAN PASDAR) throws a wrench in Elaine's plan to resign from his cabinet. Tensions fly at the Washington Globe when Elaine's resignation letter is leaked. Douglas decides to come clean to Elaine about his betrayal, and makes an impulsive decision. Meanwhile, an unforeseen event leaves the Hammonds -- and the country -- at a crossroads.