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TV Series Review

It's not every day that a soccer mom gets picked for one of the world's most important, most intricate jobs. So will it be politics as usual? Not if Elizabeth McCord has her way.

Not that Elizabeth is exactly a foreigner to inside-the-beltway pressure. She is, after all, a former CIA analyst with a whip-snap mind and a no-nonsense reputation. She knows how to speak diplomatically when need be—and when to keep her trap shut, too. Sure, she can twist the occasional arm. But Elizabeth understands that sometimes what world leaders need is just a big ol' hug.

Sound a little motherly? It should. Because when she's not slapping international policy together, or running for President (and winning), she's slapping mayo on sandwich bread and coaching her kids through life. Elizabeth may be the most powerful person in the world, but for her, Job No. 1 is being a good mom. And her commitment to family—her husband, Henry, and their three children—gives her, arguably, the out-of-the-White-House-box viewpoint that the White House needs.

Politics as Usual?

Madam Secretary asks us, in our super-cynical age, to think of government as truly being of the people, the sort of people who we might pass in the supermarket—only smarter and better dressed. It suggests that Washington can be better at times than we give it credit for, and that it could be better yet with a little more common sense. And while some initially called Madam Secretary (which was released in 2014) a CBS commercial for former Presidential contender Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth's political leanings aren't always that clear, and not particularly alienating even when they are.

The show itself takes cues from its fictional characters. Like Elizabeth, it's competent and efficient. But like her environs, things can sometimes get a little … dingy.

"Everything is more complicated than you think right now," Elizabeth tells her daughter Stevie, but she might also be warning us of things to come. Both Elizabeth and Henry hold deep secrets, even from each other. Elizabeth suspects that the government she now runs may have had something to do with the death of her predecessor. Flashbacks to her previous gig as a CIA wonk hint at a violent underbelly. And you've heard that politics makes strange bedfellows? These characters sometimes do indeed share sheets.

Worth Re-Electing?

But while Madam Secretary (which, as of 2019, was entering its last season) has its problems, it's better and cleaner than we've seen lately from any of the other Washington-based dramas. While shows like Scandal and State of Affairs swim in salacious waters, and Netflix’s recently departed House of Cards does some deep-sea diving in the stuff, Madam Secretary seems content to walk along the edge of the surf.

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Episode Reviews

Oct. 13, 2019: "The Strike Zone"
Dec. 9, 2018: "Winter Garden"
Madam Secretary: Mar. 25, 2018 "The Unnamed"
Madam Secretary: Jan. 17, 2016 "The Middle Way"
Madam-Secretary: 11-23-2014



Readability Age Range



Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord; Tim Daly as Henry McCord; Patina Miller as Daisy Grant; Geoffrey Arend as Matt Mahoney; Erich Bergen as Blake Moran; Kathrine Herzer as Alison McCord; Evan Roe as Jason McCord; Zeljko Ivanek as Russell Jackson; Bebe Neuwirth as Nadine Tolliver; Wallis Currie-Wood as Stephanie 'Stevie' McCord; Keith Carradine as President Conrad Dalton; Mike Pniewski as Gordon Becker; Sebastian Arcelus as Jay Whitman; Chris Petrovski as Dmitri Petrov; Kevin Rahm as Michael ‘Mike B.’ Barrow






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