Review: ‘Madam Secretary:’ A new take on political dramas

The 2014 series “Madam Secretary” shakes up everything you thought you knew about political dramas. Instead of thriller-like plot lines and corruption running rampant, we see a realistic yet interesting and wholesome show.

The series starts with Elizabeth McCord — played by Téa Leoni — being recruited for the Secretary of State position by the current president — played by Keith Carradine. McCord is an ex-CIA agent turned university professor and horse farmer. President Conrad Dalton worked closely with Elizabeth when she worked with the CIA, which is why he appointed her to the position.

This show is very different from all the other political dramas we’ve been flooded with in recent years. Elizabeth McCord isn’t political. She has no personal ambition to the presidency or any other higher political office, but she is a bright and very well-connected politician.

The directors of “Madam Secretary” do a wonderful job at taking very difficult and troubling situations and making them palatable for a larger viewership. We get an example of this in the pilot episode, when two young men are trapped in a foreign prison. Elizabeth tries to get the president on board with her plan to save the young men. However, the administration refuses to use a non-traditional approach to save them. McCord uses back channels and calls in favors from old friends in order to save the men, even though she got a slap on the wrist from the presidential administration.

The show articulates the balance it takes to care for children, maintain a healthy marriage and keep a social life, all while being a powerful political figure. Instead of being completely government focused, “Madam Secretary” takes you down a lovely path of the realistic (enough) life of a female political official.

Some criticisms of this 2014 TV Guide Award nominee for “favorite new show” argue that Elizabeth is simply too well connected. Many of the Secretary’s solutions to various international problems include asking the help of powerful people she just happened to go to college with, or a friend, or a parent of one of her children’s friends that happens to have the necessary connection or power to solve the issue.

However, someone in Elizabeth McCord’s position would have to be very well connected. In addition to this, Elizabeth has an innate ability to charm anyone. She has created many allies and benevolent associates that she can later call on.

In the pilot episode, McCord says that she’s “never met a situation where [she didn’t] have a choice in the matter,” which could very well be the show’s slogan. Elizabeth McCord only plays by the “rules” if they work in the situation. She often innovates and thinks outside the box in order to find a solution that no one else could possibly think of.

“Madam Secretary” is a fabulous combination between a Hallmark movie and a slightly less corrupt “House of Cards.” Lovers of politics, family life and drama will without a doubt binge watch this show.

Now if we could only get a season four!

Rating 5/5

Pros:

  • Shows balance between work and home life.
  • Strong and charming female protagonist.
  • Easy to understand political jargon.

Cons:

  • Only three seasons (some questions may go unanswered).
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