Hillarywood: New Fall TV Shows Inspired By Clinton, Gillibrand

And the news media love it.

It’s no secret that Hollywood loves Hillary Clinton, and now some network execs are openly basing their White House characters on her. The media’s new favorite, Dem. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is also an inspiration for some new Fall shows.

CBS will premiere “Madame Secretary” this Sunday night, Sept. 21. According to Politico, the show’s creators were inspired by both Clinton and Gillibrand in their portrayal of a female politician who struggles to juggle work and family life. The show stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA agent who becomes the new Secretary of State. The character Leoni plays is both blonde and the mother of two children, like Gillibrand.

Leoni met with Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to help her prepare for the role. The show’s creator Barbara Hall revealed to Deadline that Albright was “very eager to weigh in and help us; she’s very excited about the show.”

According to Deadline,  Madam Secretary’s Executive Producers Lori McCreary and Morgan Freeman met with CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler to brainstorm ideas for a lead character last year, then became inspired by Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings.

Despite this admission, the show’s stars and creator, emphasized that this show wasn’t just about Hillary. Tim Daly, who plays Leoni’s husband in “Madame Secretary” reiterated:

“It’s a TV show, right? Our primary purpose here is to entertain people. We’re not making a documentary about Hillary Clinton; we’re not trying to support her supposed run for [the] presidency.”

Creator Barbara Hall told Politico she has mixed feelings about Leoni’s character being compared to Hillary.

“I don’t mind the discussion, but it’s really clear to me, and I think it’s clear in the show, that that’s not what we’re doing.”

But Hall and Freeman did look to Kirsten Gillibrand in creating a female protagonist. Hall went on to say she “studied the life” of Gillibrand to see how she juggled taking care of young children and being a Senator at the same time.

Actor Morgan Freeman takes a new role as Executive Producer of the political show. Freeman recently told Jimmy Kimmel that he gets his news from MSNBC so it should be no surprise the politics in the show will be left-leaning.

NBC also will be premiering State of Affairs, Nov. 17, starring Katherine Heigl and Democrat activist Alfre Woodard as the black female POTUS. 


The media certainly seems happy about the new shows. Washington Post’s Jaime Fuller exuberant headline read, “Every TV show is about - and has always been about- Hillary Clinton.” The LA Times’ Meredith Blake deemed it “The Hillary Effect.” 

The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley pondered what exactly was Hillary’s defining moment that made tv execs so interested in her. Was it “that photograph of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House Situation Room, watching, hand over mouth, as cameras showed the SEAL Team Six raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound?” Stanley gushed. Or “maybe it was the moment she blew up at senators” during the Benghazi hearings? 

The New York Times’ Stanley noted how modern presentations of female politicians present them in “rosy shades of respect and admiration” while their “self-serving colleagues pursue ignoble agendas, network heroines in top positions are multitasking do-gooders trying to keep the nation safe.” Sort of like how the Times portrays Democrats? 

National Review also analyzed NBC’s strategy for premiering the show at this time.

"On November 17, 2014, NBC, the unofficial propaganda arm of both the White House and the Democratic party, is scheduled to premiere its new weekly drama, State of Affairs. ... Usually network shows run for a 13-episode season. That means State of Affairs has an excellent chance of airing through mid February 2015. Last week Hillary Clinton stated that she will announce her presidential intentions 'after the first of the year.'"

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.