'Homeland' Season 6 Will Have A Female President, But It's Not The First Show To Do So
A couple of weeks ago, showrunner Alex Gansa dropped some vague Homeland Season 6 spoilers, including the possibility that the upcoming season could inaugurate a woman as President of the United States. "Whether the president is male or female, it’s going to be a very interesting character," he told the crowd assembled at his show's For Your Consideration Emmy panel, which begged the question: why would he raise the issue of POTUS' gender if the character wasn't going to be a woman? Well, this Wednesday, star Claire Danes officially confirmed in a Q&A with Variety that Homeland Season 6 will feature a female president after all.
In a coincidental (or convenient?) twist of timing, this announcement came only one day after Hillary Clinton became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, the first woman to ever be in such a position. But Homeland's female Commander in Chief will be far from the first time the job has been filled by a woman on the small screen — including one of Gansa's own pre-Homeland shows.
For some reason, the big screen has been much less kind to female POTUSes. (Sela Ward's President Elizabeth Lanford in this summer's Independence Day: Resurgence is one of the only women to hold the job in a major Hollywood blockbuster.) But television has had several Madam Presidents over the years, including…
1. President Julia Mansfield, Hail To The Chief (1985)
The first woman elected to the highest office on the small screen predates Hillary Clinton's nomination by over three decades. Patty Duke (who won an Oscar for portraying Helen Keller in 1962's The Miracle Worker) starred in this short-lived ABC sitcom from the creator of Soap that lasted for only seven episodes.
2. President Mackenzie Allen, Commander In Chief (2005-'06)
It would take another 20 years before TV saw another program focused on a female President, when ABC took the concept for a more dramatic spin in this series starring Oscar nominee Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise). Sadly, it also only lasted one all-too-short season before getting pulled from the network's schedule.
3. President Caroline Reynolds, Prison Break (2006)
When Patricia Wettig's Caroline Reynolds was first introduced on this FOX thriller, she was merely the Vice President — but that didn't stop her from scheming and murdering her way into the Oval Office, proving that portrayals of female POTUSes don't have to be sympathetic ones.
4. President Allison Taylor, 24 (2008-'10)
Early in its run, 24 made history with its portrayal of America's first black president, David Palmer. So it felt only natural when the writers (including Alex Gansa) followed that up with Cherry Jones' Emmy-winning performance as President Taylor. She straddled the line between likable and sympathetic, portraying a POTUS who was fundamentally good… but also made some morally bankrupt decisions in the line of duty.
5. President Constance Payton, State Of Affairs (2014-'15)
Although Prison Break and 24 both enjoyed long runs with female POTUSes as supporting characters, NBC's State Of Affairs once again proved that a show focused on a woman President as a main character is doomed to cancellation. Despite Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard's terrific performance as President Payton, the show was axed after one 13-episode season.
6. President Selina Meyer, Veep (2014-present)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus' multiple Emmy-winning character President Meyer didn't start out in the Oval Office. It may have taken her three seasons to get the job, but her POTUS promotion — and the herculean task of keeping her in office for a second term — has only made the show even funnier for the last two years. All hail the chief.
We'll see how Homeland's female President stacks up against the rest when Season 6 premieres in January of next year.
Images: Stephan Rabold/Showtime; ABC (2); FOX (2), NBC; Lacey Terrell/HBO