A couple weeks ago CBS’s Madame Secretary was filming near my house. The street was packed with movie trucks and techs; the wardrobe was directly across from my house and enormous luxury buses lined either side of the street creating a canyon-like sensation when driving through. I noted to my husband this was an awful lot of fanfare for one measly show, and he explained the series is quite popular and critically acclaimed.
I noticed Madame Secretary on netflix this weekend and watched the first two episodes. My initial impression is this is a watered down version of House of Cards with a dash of Rubicon (which was unfortunately cancelled after one season) and a large injection of fluff.
Each episode features a “serious story” and a smaller “light story” while there is an ongoing conspiracy narrative linked between episodes (this may change as seasons progress, I’m only at the start). The show liberally injects humor into the script, though the overall context is dramatic.
Tea Leoni plays Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord who leads a seemingly charmed life with a handsome, deferential college professor husband and three spunky kids. I’m not sure how two college professors (before being named SoS, McCord is a professor) were able to afford the sumptuous estate that was their horse farm, but perhaps one McCord or the other comes from money.
The plots are somewhat contrived- the smart, confident woman up against the eeeevil men shtick is hackneyed- but I have to hand it to Leoni: she really pulls it off as an elegantly powerful woman. So often in film the “powerful woman” just come across as bitchy and boring. Leoni is neither and is highly watchable despite the narratives’ shortcomings.
As of episode 2 I recommend Madame Secretary if you’re looking to turn your brain off for 45 minute increments of political entertainment. Leoni looks great for her age (she is now in her fifties) but in some scenes she has so much botox/ cosmetic surgery going on her face looks fake; when she talks, the rest of her face doesn’t move!