Couch Potatoes with a Cause (Feminist TV Club): Commander in Chief, Season 1 Episode 4

Episode Summary: Episode 4, “First Dance” (taken from Wikipedia):

President Allen faces her first summit and state dinner with the President of Russia Dmitri Kharkov. The subject of civil liberties and dissident journalists is a source of deep division between the two world leaders.

To coincide with the summit, Nathan Templeton has organized the resignation of several members of Allen’s Cabinet by offering them positions in a future administration with himself as President. Among the resignations were those of the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of the Interior. Chief of Staff Jim Gardner visits Templeton to demand explanations for his actions, but instead Templeton offers Gardner the opportunity to be his Vice-President if he resigns his position as Chief of Staff. Gardner refuses the offer as Templeton vows that he will run and defeat Allen in the next election.

During the state dinner, whilst dancing together which was viewed badly by the White House staff, President Kharkov and President Allen seem to mend their differences and offer support for each others countries. The family life of the First Family has some controversies when Rebecca, the President’s daughter, decides not to attend the dinner in order to have a date with a school friend.

At the end of the episode, President Allen presents Templeton with a biography of the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler, whose Cabinet largely resigned when he assumed the presidency. Tyler managed to stay in the White House until the end of his term.

Discussion under the cut!

I really enjoyed this episode. Like, REALLY enjoyed it. How bad-ass is Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen? I feel like I should just open up every single post with that statement.

Anyway. There were two things that struck me in this episode:
1. Rebecca’s romance with her brother’s skeezeball friend Fleming – I wasn’t sure if this was just adding an element of teen drama to it or speaking out on the issue of guys being disgusting re: taking girls’ virginities as a sign of manliness or adding a different element to the show. Either way, I loved her brothers’ way of protecting his sister – he’s not going to get into a testosterone-off, but instead he’s going to just sic his younger sister on her. Genius. Side note: I LOVE that Amy loves video games. Absolutely LOVE it.

Cockblocker extraordinaire

2. At this point, the most surprising sexism is the little comments that come from aides, world leaders, and, of course, Nathan Templeton – and the way that issues are handled with a female President.

  • Templeton’s lines: “By the end of [his convincing her cabinet members to resign], she may be back running her school”, “we can save this country from her”,  “Clever girl [after receiving the Tyler book]”, and “Think about your loyal to your people” [to Jim re: becoming the first African-American Vice President if he runs with Templeton] — It baffles me how Templeton always refers to Mac as “girl” or “her” — I mean, does he not believe that she is truly a President? And what happened to his responsibility as a Patriot, as Jim says? And his comment to Jim? It’s like stereotypical old-white-guy stuff. I feel that’s what Jim represents. Do you?
  • President Karkov: “Perhaps I’ll be able to beat a President at golf.” – I hated his assumption she wasn’t good at golf since she’s a woman, but I loved her response that she had a good short game. Do you think that women will just have to accept these stereotypes and take them in stride like Mac did? Or should Mac have gotten a little less subtle with her comeback? I think she had the proper response, but I can see the other side of the coin.
  • Kelly’s line: “She’s more than a woman, she’s a President.” – this ties in with the debate her staff had over whether or not she could dance with Karkov. Where does gender roles and stereotypes play into political leadership? Do you think she did the right thing to break off and dance with him? I believe she did – it was such an antiquated thing, asking her to dance, but her response was not antiquated – she lead the conversation and strived to come to a major agreement.

A few stray observations/quotes:
– “I’m the President. Get yourself another Muffin.”
– Political Foreplay? Love it.
– The John Tyler book to Templeton? PURE GENIUS. SO BEAUTIFUL IT HURTS.

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About beckawall

AU Alumni, feminist, master of peanut butter brownies. Lover of Teddy Roosevelt, politics, analyzing popular culture, and general nerdery.

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