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‘Madam Secretary’: just another political drama

| Tuesday, September 30, 2014


MadamSecretary_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer
In our politically-charged world, it is nearly impossible to flip through the channels on TV without seeing either a news broadcast about the White House, a replica of it in a series or a talk show host referencing politics in their segment.  Every network has at least one show that mimics American politics, and recently there have been more and more shows with female leads in political environments.  This fall, CBS aired the newest White House series, “Madam Secretary,” starring Tea Leoni as Elizabeth Faulkner McCord.  In the pilot episode, Elizabeth, currently a history professor at the University of Virginia, wife and mother of three, receives a personal visit from the President of the United States (Keith Carradine) asking her to take on the role of Secretary of State.  Although it means taking time and energy away from her family and quitting her job, McCord accepts.  She is immediately whisked into the drama of international affairs, specifically dealing with two American teenagers imprisoned in Syria for espionage, as she is taking over for the previous secretary who was killed in a plane crash.  The show attempts to take a look into the day-to-day role of the Secretary of State doubling as wife and mother.

Leoni perfectly portrays McCord as an intelligent, strong woman with political connections, ready to take on the enormous task of becoming one of the president’s most important advisors.  She receives some glares and negativity from others in the White House, as they accuse her of taking advantage of her friendship with the President to get this position.  However, as you will see in the show, she was named Secretary due to her honesty, integrity and historical knowledge, not from any sort of corruption. During her first hectic days in the White House, she proves herself by using her connections to save the American hostages from being executed.  She proceeds to go out among the public, making herself accessible to the people and opening up to the media about her life.  McCord seems to be a perfectly well-rounded woman, keeping up with her new job as well as her family life – until the two worlds collide with a shocking revelation at the end of the first episode.

While watching the show, I couldn’t help but see Hillary Clinton in McCord’s character.  Most obviously, Leoni is a determined blond woman in pantsuits challenging the heavily masculine White House dynamic – just like Hillary.  The show may even be a subtle piece of propaganda for Clinton’s supposed 2016 presidential campaign.

Overall, the new series seems to be a bit too close to reality to be an enjoyable and addictive series.   It lacks dramatization and becomes boring and predictable, with decent acting that is overshadowed by basically every other political drama.  It seems as though the major networks have run out of ideas and are recycling and combining previous ideas to create new shows; however, it comes across as overplayed and dull.  Unlike “Scandal” and “House of Cards,” two political dramas that have caught my attention with their intense drama and complex plot lines, Madam Secretary has yet to impress me.   The third episode is scheduled to air Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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About Maddie Daly

A senior English and French major in love with Paris, cooking and fashion, currently residing in Chicago.

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