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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. And the president tabbed her as his new Secretary of State precisely because she's a little different.

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, she's slapping mayo on sandwich bread. Elizabeth may be one of the most powerful people 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 POTUS wants.

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 have called Madam Secretary a CBS commercial for a certain presidential campaign, 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 works for 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 Retaining?

At least while Madam Secretary 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 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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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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






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On Video

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Paul Asay

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