SPOLER ALERT: Madam Secretary ended its six season run with President Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) and first husband Henry (Tim Daly) kissing on the back of a caboose, as the residents of a small town cheer and the train pulls away.
They are in the midst of a whistlestop tour to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
That the show ended onboard a whistlestop tour, a remant of a bygone and simpler era, was an apt way to wrap the series. The show’s hopeful tone and neatly wrapped scenarios often were an alternate political universe to the cynical and polarized Trump years.
That was especially true of McCord’s policy agenda. Also in the final episode, McCord was joined by members of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team, Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, appearing in cameos, to mark the signing of landmark pay equity legislation. But when civil rights figure Flo Avery (Cicely Tyson), born on the same day that women received the right to vote, Aug. 18, 1920, chides McCord for not going far enough to guarantee women’s equality, madam president revives the campaign for the ERA.
The last episode also featured the White House wedding of the McCord’s daughter Stevie (Wallis Currie-Wood) to Dmitri Petrov (Chris Petrovski), which is pulled off without the rancor of partisanship.
The series had a way of featuring some parallels to current events — McCord even fended off an impeachment drive — but the series was always linked to Hillary Clinton, debuting in 2014 just as speculation was rampant that she would run in 2016. Clinton even appeared in a cameo, along with other former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, and it only further reinforced the tone of the show as a kind of what might have been had things gone a different way in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The politics of the show were loftier than today’s hyperpartisanship, an idealized version of a White House in much the same way that The West Wing was during the Bush years. This time, the series is ending in the midst of a real-life impeachment drama, with an ending that’s pointing much more towards something out of House of Cards than Madam Secretary.