R.I.P., 'Commander in Chief'?
The prez, she dead. Or so it would appear, as ABC pulls Commander in Chief from May sweeps.
Has any show gone from Hot to Not with such alarming swiftness? True, the series had more than its fair share of leadership shakeups (three show-runners in one season!), but I think the problem may go deeper. I’ll admit, I didn’t get far past the Rod Lurie-directed pilot — that was enough for me. Lurie, you’ll recall, made The Contender, another clumsy elision of contemporary sexual politics and regular old dirty politics. I respect Lurie’s intentions in both cases, but he has a tendency to keep announcing the boldness of his premise instead of simply trusting it and letting a story develop.
addCredit(“Commander in Chief: Kent Eanes/ABC”)
The effect is distancing and, I think, a little insulting: Is itreally so very outlandish to imagine a female President? Moreoutlandish, say, than accepting the unabashedly liberal president of The West Wing?And do we need a finger-twiddling Donald Sutherland making PMS jokes tothe CIC’s face in order to understand the stakes here? When you makethe villain a caricature, you do the same to your heroine: Suddenly,her very existence seems as improbably as science fiction. (Sciencefiction, incidentally, has covered the female president issue much morecompellingly and convincingly — and more as a matter of course — on Battlestar Galactica.)Sexism in Washington (and elsewhere) is more insidious, more perniciousthan a central-casting baddie muttering essentialist barbs. It’sdelivered with a smile of “compassion,” an appeal to “realism,” aknow-nothing lecture on “biology.”
I realize Commander dipped its toe into these subtler waters,but I remain shocked that the pilot was received with such fanfare — Ithought it was kind of a joke, honestly. The progressive in me washappy to see a portrait of a strong female president, I suppose, butthe whole thing looked like a cartoon, right down to the sillyemasculation of the First Husband, so how could I ignore the fact thatI was being pandered to? I couldn’t, and down came my TiVo guillotine.
So who’s sorry to see this one go? And, on the private TV networkyou program in your head, what would your Female President Show looklike? Or would it be a President Show where the president just happened to be female?