By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2018-19 TV season, and which… won’t.
As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.
Next up is CBS’ often-prescient political drama.
THE SHOW | CBS’ Madam Secretary (Sundays at 10/9c)
THE CASE FOR KEEPING | No matter which party you espouse, you’ve gotta admit: Real-life politics these days is exhausting. Which is why Madam Secretary‘s fictional, yes, but also aspirational White House provides such a welcome respite each Sunday. As President Dalton (Keith Carradine) wrestles with the international issues of our day, he seeks the sage counsel of Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni). And Elizabeth, in exchange, consults with her staff of patriotic policy wonks, who help her solve dicey diplomatic dilemmas by the end of the hour.
Now in its fifth season, the CBS drama has an eerie tendency to hit on global issues just as they surface in the real world; recent episodes have touched on family separation at the United States border and America’s tenuous relationships with China and Russia. But it’s not all resolutions and attachés: The addition of Elizabeth’s religion professor husband, Henry (Tim Daly), as White House ethics advisor, though slightly improbable, has only strengthened the couple’s interaction this season — and that’s a big plus for those of us who enjoy the McCord family dynamic as much as, if not more than, the West Wing goings-on.
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THE CASE FOR CUTTING | Since the show has established that Elizabeth has designs on the Oval Office, there’s no story-related reason to end the series now. In fact, at least one more season highlighting her experiences during a presidential run seems like a rather good idea. However, the show’s ratings aren’t a slam-dunk for renewal.
Averaging not quite a 0.6 demo rating and 5.5 million total viewers, Madam Secretary is nearly on par with its prior season average, which is no small deal in these times. And yet the fact remains that it ranks practically last (only beating Saturday’s Ransom) out of CBS’ 16 dramas in the demo, and places only slightly higher when it comes to total audience. Will its fate as the oft-delayed Sunday-night closer spare it, or put it once again on the chopping block?
Vote below, then hit the comments and make your own case for keeping or cutting Madam Secretary.