This is why I tend to watch the same things over and over on Netflix. Because if I discover something new and I like it…
I don’t watch TV regularly, but when I do, I dig a trench and take a fortified position. I would keep up with TV shows, but it’s hard to watch one at a time. By the time I settle on the couch with my drink, my knitting, my lap quilt, my dog, my phone in case Mom calls, my ottoman pushed in place, my feet up…that’s a lot of work for just 43 minutes. (Plus, my couch has passed the point of sag-librium, where there’s as much literal inertia required as figurative.)
That also makes me reluctant to try new things. Because if I’m going to go through the trouble to bivouac, I want a bit of certainty that I won’t have wasted my time. (This may be why I don’t date much.)
The flip side of that is if I’m interested in a show, I’ll put off watching it till I have a day when I can settle in and enjoy, but then so many episodes will pile up that it becomes intimidating, and I figure if I’ve lived without the show in my life this long….
Plus, what if I like it? Then I’m stuck. It’s not that I’m an all-or-nothing type. Really. Except when I am.
So last night I was like, okay, I’ll try Madam Secretary because I probably won’t like it, and then I won’t get sucked into the couch never to be seen until dawn.
This is embarrassing to admit, but when this show premiered, I got it confused with Scandal, which sounded like Grey’s Anatomy in the White House, and GA is one of those shows where I got caught up in the hype for about half a season and then realized I didn’t actually care for any of the characters. I’ve heard Scandal is great, but Madam Secretary was off my radar until it showed up on Netflix, recommend to me because I like the West Wing.
Here’s the thing about Real Life Politics. Rarely is there a happy ending where things work out okay and everyone gets at least one thing they want. Instead, it’s like a White Elephant gift exchange, where the ballsy people get the good stuff and the people too nice to steal (or just in an unlucky place in the order) get the generic brand bath gift set.
The West Wing is wish-fulfilment White House, where everyone is witty, everyone is principled (even when those principles clash), and when people are flawed it just makes them more interesting. And when things to go shit, or agonizing moral quandaries arise, at least it makes a really satisfying story. (Real life is usually not a satisfying story until it becomes history and someone spins it a bit.)
Now, Madam Secretary, it turns out, is written and produced by Barbara Hall, who wrote and produced Joan of Arcadia, one of my favorite, favorite shows (until halfway through the second season). It has so many of her hallmarks. It’s about this woman who’s Secretary of State, and there’s a definite West Wingy kind of vibe, but it’s also about family and love and loyalty…so it’s this very human story wrapped up in a political drama.
Plus, the leads in the office are two strong, imperfect women, and the Secretary’s husband (Tim Daly) has up till now been holding down the fort at home, having to be the heart and peacemaker in the house. People of color seem a bit underrepresented, but I’m only twelve episodes in.
Only twelve. Yeah, that happened.
If it goes off the rails or something in later seasons, DON’T TELL ME. Or maybe just tell me when to stop watching so I’ll think of it fondly.