‘Madam Secretary’ Bosses on Elizabeth’s Finale Reveal & a Possible Season 6
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 5 finale of Madam Secretary, “Better Angels.”]
She’s running for president!
CBS’s political drama Madam Secretary concluded its fifth season tonight (April 21) with Elizabeth McCord’s speech announcing her presidential campaign in the front yard of the family’s rural Virginia home.
TV Insider asked Madam Secretary’s executive producers Barbara Hall and Lori McCreary about the future of the former secretary of state turned third-party candidate if the show returns for a sixth season.
Where does the show stand now in terms of renewal? Did you write the episode so it would be satisfying as a series finale in case you’re not renewed?
Barbara Hall: We’re feeling hopeful. It was written to, what we’ve always wanted to do, get her on the campaign trail. It could serve as the end of the series but it would be much better if there’s at least one season about running for President.
Lori McCreary: Our audience really wants to see that happen. If you look at social media, they’re really interested to get a look at what happens behind the scenes on a Presidential campaign.
You are working hard at portraying Elizabeth McCord as an independent, making it clear that she supports both a good business climate as well as liberal positions on climate change and immigrant rights. Is she your dream candidate?
Hall: Her approach to running for President is a candidate that we’d like to see in that she cares about the rule of law and she’s measured in her platform. I do think she would be an ideal candidate.
You’re less blatant about the show’s politics than The Good Fight is, though you have tackled a number of controversial issues where Elizabeth’s policies are not aligned with the current real-life Administration. Will you continue doing that while she’s on the campaign trail?
Hall: We always wanted to have a show about politics that isn’t so polarizing. You can talk about policy differences without getting into extremism. What we really try to do is endorse the idea of a two-party system or a three-party system in our case, which has policy differences. That’s how democracy works and thrives. We make clear in her run that the only thing we’re against is extremism.
McCreary: We want to show that you don’t have to be extreme to cut through the noise; you can stick with your principles and what you truly believe. In today’s world, we believe there are many moderate politicians but they feel they need to push beyond their true beliefs so that they get the air time. I hope that our show models a future where people can have civil discourse even if they’re on opposite sides of an issue.
Elizabeth’s announcement speech was all about uniting, common values, etc. Did you deliberately want to offer viewers hopeful optimism in a very polarized, angry time?
Hall: We wanted to remind people and ourselves what the principles of democracy are about and how to uphold those principles.
The memory of Robert Kennedy is a theme in the episode, highlighted by a campaign pin the murdered UN delegate Peter Harriman carried with him since his assassination. Are you using his campaign as a model?
— Madam Secretary (@MadamSecretary) April 20, 2019
Hall: We wanted to hold him up as someone who reached across the aisle to both parties, who was unifying in a lot of ways. We want to think of Elizabeth in those terms; to remind people of points she’s made earlier, particularly in the season premiere where she talks about how democracy should work for all of us.
What are some of the issues, Elizabeth could face during her run?
Hall: We’ll see her delving into domestic issues for the first time, since her role was mostly about foreign policy issues. That’s what will be exciting and fun because we’ll learn her stances on domestic policy issues.
McCreary: Things will get more political and how Elizabeth navigates that hopefully will be inspiring.
Hall: Also, we’ll run this campaign alongside the actual primaries. We’re watching all these candidates find their platforms and we think it will be fun to show that process with Elizabeth.
Will she have any differences of opinions coming from her politically aware family?
McCreary: We’re looking forward to the interplay between she and her husband [White House ethics advisor] Henry (Tim Daly) given that he’s still at the White House. It will also be interesting to see the context of this new world through the eyes of the McCord children
Speaking of the kids, what’s with that kiss between the oldest daughter Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) and Elizabeth’s advisor Blake (Erich Bergen), a self-described bisexual? Could it be a romance or will they be good friends?
Hall: I was thinking a good friendship, but as I was watching the episode, I thought, “He went for it!” [Laughs] One of the things we will do is look at the personal relationships that evolve during a pressure cooker of a campaign.
Will we still see the President (Keith Carradine) and Russell Jackson (Zeliko Ivanek) next season?
Hall: Yes. The plan is to keep the White House alive through Henry’s job, and for a while Stevie’s job with Russell, as well as follow the campaign trail.
McCreary: Russell will be an important touchstone for the family and will be advising them as much as he can, giving he’s still part of the administration.
Since in our current world new issues and concerns come up fast and furious do you expect you’ll have to do a lot of rewriting to keep up ?
McCreary: We haven’t had to do a lot of rewriting because Barbara seems to have her finger on the pulse of what’s coming. Sorry, Barbara to blow your cover. So I suspect that whatever we decide at the beginning is going to actually come true. So, beware.
Hall: We have a three-party system on our show, so we’ll have a primary where the Independent Party candidate is running neck and neck with the other two parties’ candidates. That’ll be slightly different and give us a parallel universe to play around in.