Why I Watch ‘Madam Secretary’

Daniel Darling | March 4, 2016

“Just another day with a world crisis to solve that nobody will know about,” Elizabeth McCord says wryly to her husband, Henry, as she hangs up the phone, grabs her coffee, and heads out the door. For McCord, heroine of CBS’s popular series Madam Secretary, this is her everyday reality.

Ever since The West Wing went off the air, political junkies like myself have been casting about for a similar show. It hasn’t been easy. Though the nation’s capital is a common setting, attempts to recreate the White House, Congress, or any other government agency have (in my view) failed. They are usually fanciful (Scandal), conspiratorial (State of Affairs), cynical (Veep), or all of the above (House of Cards). What’s more, none has matched The West Wing’s superb writing and casting. Who but Martin Sheen could own the role of President of the United States? 

Perhaps it’s due to the deep cynicism of our age or the entertainment culture’s inability, but few shows have been able to capture the seriousness of public service and the weight of high office like The West Wing. Despite portraying a deeply liberal (though often pragmatic) President, creator Aaron Sorkin gave viewers…

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