We don’t have a woman Secretary of State anymore. Hillary Clinton was the last, Condoleezza Rice was one and so was Madeleine Albright. But I am not writing about “real” secretaries of state, I’m referring to the television show with Téa Leoni. On that show, Téa played a CIA analyst who became secretary and then became president. The show just recently aired its final episode. I’m not weighing in on politics, that’s what Facebook is for (LOL!). Rather, I want to focus on an aspect that gets overlooked too often, and the impact it has on America.
The TV show, Madam Secretary, was one of the shows that liked to riff on current headlines and weave moral stories into its segments. My father didn’t like the show because he thought they were too liberal, and I have to say, he was right. But in all the years that I watched the show, they never glorified violence, horror or gratuitous sex. I would have been ok with two or three of those, but they hit the trifecta.
I am not advocating that everyone starts watching the Hallmark Channel Christmas shows starting in July, but how many shows about Evil, Special Victims, or Criminal Minds do we really need? How many shows opt for the shoot-out, or the knife fight, or some cadaver laying on a slab in the morgue with the autopsy results half splattered on the screen. And all in prime time. I know I am being a bit prudish about this and there is far worse on the internet, but when did we stop caring as a country about what gets broadcasted into our homes.
Notwithstanding the great acting opportunity for the one who gets to lie on the slab and hold their breathe, do we really need to see all the blood and gore and insinuation of evil in the world? Isn’t the news bad enough?
What I liked about Madam Secretary is that they took a different path. They tried to take an issue, present it fairly, and then reconcile what the “right” thing to do would be. I recently started watching Wagon Train on MeTV. I was a little too young to watch the original shows, but each show was a mini-morality play, highlighting good and evil, right and wrong, and yes, the show was in black and white, just to highlight the issues (color didn’t come ‘til later in TV land). Among the stars of Wagon Train was Ward Bond. He was a good friend of John Wayne and appeared in many of Wayne’s movies, so I wasn’t too surprised when an episode about Ulysses Grant had a cameo by John Wayne. But the message was clear, do the right thing, just like John Wayne and Ward Bond. I’m not sure that Spike meant the same thing.
So why am I so wound up about Madam Secretary? Because I think we need shows that depict human situations and how we can “do the right thing.” And not just for the kids, there are plenty of adults who could use remedial instruction, too. But rather we get tutorials on how to be a terrorist or how to be evil. Wouldn’t it be better to bring back ethics, morality, right and wrong? I’m not saying that there is a bright line here, and God knows I have been on both sides of the line in my life, but it would be nice to be reminded that good exists, that kindness is not weakness, that strength is standing up for what is right.
I guess the real reason I’m upset is that Madam Secretary ended its run is not because they ran out of ideas, but because of low ratings. Low ratings! So, I guess America voted with their TV sets and Madam Secretary was voted out of office. And the real tragedy here is that now I have to find a new show, and they are so hard to come by without having to subscribe to a hundred different streaming companies! Ugh!