The second season of Madam Secretary has just finished on UK TV. And, perhaps a little to my surprise, I’m forced to reflect that it has stealthily become one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. To be clear: it’s not “great TV”. It’s not a Sopranos, a Mad Men, a Good Wife. Nor is it even a seasons 1 and 2 Scandal; although, as it happens, it’s significantly more consistent, in terms of quality and tone, than present-day Scandal. It’s very good, though. Really very good indeed.
In this finale, ‘Vartius’, Elizabeth learns, through her idiosyncratic consultant Mike B (the always-welcome Kevin Rahm) that President Dalton has identified a replacement for her. This perturbs her – not only has POTUS said nothing about it to her, but dude’s a friend – but the explanation, which arrives in due course, is that Dalton wants her to run as his Vice-President at the forthcoming election. Which… eh. I wouldn’t want to limit the character – and I’d hope we’re way beyond tokenism; in five seconds I can think of two shows with female VPs – but I quite like Elizabeth where she is.
Still, I’m confident that, whatever happens, Madam Secretary will be fine. It’s an intelligent, well-constructed show which appears comfortable in its skin; a show which knows what it’s doing, knows its strengths, and uses that confidence to grow and evolve. The longer story arcs in season 2 were a perfect demonstration of that: the way in which geopolitical crises in Russia and Pakistan were developed, and the consequent strain on the McCord marriage, was a model of how to do that sort of thing within the constraints of a network drama.