We don’t know what the future holds for women in politics, even though it feels like Hillary is due for her presidential moment. For every kick ass moment of women’s political progress, there always seems to be another Hobby Lobby just around the corner. While the nation lies in wait, television is leaning into the stories of political women whole hog with not one but two shows that clearly owe some inspiration to Ms. Clinton. First off, is the most obvious: Madam Secretary, starring Tea Leoni as Secretary of State.
Then there’s the more suspense packed State of Affairs starring Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst and featuring a black female president, which sounds more like a Tom Clancy novel than something you’d picture the star of 27 Dresses in. Which is definitely something the world needs more of: opportunities for actresses outside of rom coms and love interests. It’s exciting to see bold, choice roles being written for the D.C. set, regardless of how accurate they might actually be about the daily lives of women who live and work within our government (after all, it is TV and juicy storytelling is paramount).
To the untrained eye, these shows look like two blond reincarnation of one another — hell, combine their titles and you get Secretary of State. But if you’re willing to look beyond a quick network trailer, you're probably jazzed about powerful ladies in pantsuits. Now, this is your mission — should you choose to accept it: equipped with only your armchair analyst skills, identify which of these facts describe Madam Secretary and which ones describe State of Affairs. Despite their similar names, they may actually bring more than a few unique changes to the landscape of women in television:
Round 1: Who Made What? — Which show was...
- Created by the executive producer of Homeland?
- Created by a writer for The Blacklist?
- If Madam Secretary has you thinking about another political TV blonde, your heads in the right place. Creator Barbara Hall has her hand in both Madam Secretary and Homeland.
- Maybe writing for The Blacklist made him a fan of professional intrigue, because State of Affairs’ Joe Carnahan not only writes for that show, but is reportedly the one who scared away Affairs original show runner.
Round 2: Real Life Inspiration — Which show was...
- Inspired by the Benghazi hearings?
- Pulls from Guantanamo Bay and recent kidnappings of Americans?
- Deadline quotes Madam Secretary executive producer Lori McCreary as “trying to come up with a great character … And then, guess what happened — the Benghazi hearings,” which CBS chairman Nina Tassler took to creator Hall.
- State of Affairs has Heigl combating a terrorist group looking to kill innocent Americans until 25 prisoners are released from Guantanamo. Pretty straightforward.
Round 3: Good At Business — Which Show...
1. Was lauded by Forbes as disrupting the way TV is made?
2. Was lauded by Forbes as the next Good Wife?
- Secretary is the "disruptive" one. It nabbed a serious accolade from the mag, calling it the “next great broadcast television series.”
- Forbes loved the State of Affairs staffing shake up, calling it a “victory for television creators.” And they, they think Katherine Heigl may just run alongside Julianna Margulies in the kick-ass women in network television league.
Round 4: No Chance For Romance — Which show has...
- A heroine who has a romantic past with the president’s son?
- A heroine who is married with teenage kids?
- Heigl's CIA analyst is romantically attached to the president's son (before the son's untimely demise, as we see in the dramatic teaser trailer).
- Tea Leoni's Secretary of State, however, has a hubby and kids. (Much like Hillary. Just sayin'.)
Round 5: Once More With Feeling
Which show is being lauded as its star's comeback?
Duh, the answer is both. Leoni returns to television after taking a hiatus from acting to raise her kids, meanwhile Heigl is finally getting over her rom com hump and rumors of a bad 'tude that allegedly made her onscreen opportunities disappear.
Round 6: The Battle of The Big Names — Which Show...
- Boasts an Oscar winner working behind the scenes?
- Has an Oscar nominee in the principal cast?
- Secretary has none other than Morgan Freeman at the producing helm alongside Hall.
- Affairs' president Alfre Woodard was nominated in 1983 for the film Cross Creek.
Round 7: Any Given Sundance — Which Show...
- Has a cast member who appeared in 500 Days of Summer, which premiered Sundance 2009?
- Has a cast member who appeared in vampire movie A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night which premiered Sundance 2014? [Embed]
- Mr. Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend, graces Secretary as Leoni's speechwriter and appeared as one of the leads' co-workers at the greeting card company
- Affairs features Sheila Vand as a fellow CIA analyst. The actress rocked the festival circuit with her lead role in A Girl.
Round 8: Pitch Perfect — Which Show...
- Is being touted as "Scandal meets The West Wing"?
- Was conceived with the idea of how American female politician's power "translates overseas when rights for women are not what they are here."
- That'd be State of Affairs of course, which by now you've picked up is probably going to be the more salacious watch of the two new shows.
- Deadline reports that the Secretary will be exploring what it means for women to exert political power in countries and with leaders who aren't really used to giving that right to women in their own jurisdiction, which makes the pitch for the show all that more captivating to watch.
Images: Craig Blakenhorn/CBS; Giphy (2)