What The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon and Leonard did for physics, Elizabeth McCord does for the U.S. State Department on CBS’ Madam Secretary—that is, dispel the notion that the work is brain-numbingly dull by giving a behind-the-scenes peek at the lives of key players.
I resisted tuning into the drama, even though it’s the #2 series of the season, and Sunday’s most-watched scripted broadcast. I figured I’d seen enough politics every time I turned on the TV or radio, or read the news. But this was a total mistake.
I couldn’t break away from this past Sunday’s episode, the first of a three-part story arc. Forget naysayers who tell you it’s a pro-Hillary ad or that it pushes particular agendas. As Téa Leoni tells Paste and a group of other outlets, this is a series that revolves around the life of a professional working mother in an incredibly demanding job.
Of course Elizabeth McCord, Leoni’s character, takes her stances. But I found the episode to be just what series creator Barbara Hall and executive producer Lori McCreary, (who joined Leoni), promised: a way for people to see the bigger picture workings of foreign policy, without partisan tugs-of-war.
Here are 5 reasons you should start tuning in now.
The three-part series, which begins with the March 1 episode (now online), revolves around a demanding time for McCord, as she balances loyalties to her staff with the needs of her department. These episodes will have major cliffhangers, but will also give you a sample of the show that will likely entice you to commit to regularly watching the rest of the season (as well as the recently announced second season).
Now we’re not saying this is a blueprint for the intricacies of foreign policy work, but it is interesting to see the back-and-forth struggles. “People don’t see the political process. They see the results,” says Hall. And let’s be honest, that can seem dull to many of us. Madam Secretary offers plenty of action, as McCord and the other characters deal with problems in the moment before they return to their personal lives.
The show has a top-flight cast including Tim Daly (Wings, Private Practice), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers, Frasier, Blue Bloods), Željko Ivanek (Damages, The Event), and many others.
Ever since the show premiered in September of last year, viewers, critics and almost everyone else have debated about whether or not Leoni channels Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright or even Henry Kissinger in her role. “To be perfectly honest, I delighted in saying I fashioned the character after Henry Kissinger,” said Leoni who dropped the name at a red carpet event. “Truly, my inspirations are the members of my family,” she said. McCord faces infinitely more complex world problems than any of Leoni’s relatives did, of course, but the diplomacy and judiciousness they displayed suit the character well.
The much-loved and lauded actor is an executive producer of the show. Rumors abound that he may make a future guest appearance. Although she wouldn’t commit to an answer, McCreary did tease, “We’re working on it!”
Madam Secretary airs at 8PM ET, Sundays on CBS.