When Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008, she said she felt like she had an "extra burden" of convincing the American people that a woman could be president and commander in chief. Now, she notes in an interview with the Des Moines Register, television is full of women in power.
The Democratic secretary of state noted two contemporary shows that feature women in power: "Veep," an HBO comedy in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrays a vice president who ascends to the top office when the president steps down. Then there's "Madam Secretary," a CBS show featuring Téa Leoni as U.S. Secretary of State.
Years before either of those shows, Clinton was a reference point on "Gilmore Girls," a show about the life of single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory, that aired for seven years on the WB and the CW networks. During the show's third season, Rory tells her boyfriend, Dean, that she plans to write her college application essay about Clinton.
"She's so smart and tough and nobody thought she could win New York but she did and she's doing amazing, and have you heard her speak?" Rory says. When Dean responds that she's made him watch "thousands" of hours of footage of Clinton on C-SPAN, Rory gushes, "She's a great speaker, strong and persuasive with a wonderful presence, and even those suits of hers are getting better." (The Hillary essay plan is derailed when a college admissions officer sitting on a panel at Rory's high school says, "If I read one more over-adulating piece of prose about Hillary Clinton and her profound influence, my head will explode.").
"A lot of different cultural references, which I find both fascinating and kind of reinforcing, because it does take a leap of faith of imagination for people to envision a woman in the Oval Office, and oftentimes culture, entertainment is ahead of the political system in lots of ways," Clinton told the Des Moines Register.
The creators of "Madam Secretary" have said that Clinton was an inspiration for fictional Secretary Elizabeth McCord, but that the character also drew on former female Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.
"When we got into developing [the show], to me, the first thing I had to do was make it fictional, make a character who wasn't Hillary," writer and creator Barbara Hall told Politico when the show first hit the airwaves in the fall of 2014. She said she doesn't "mind" the discussion which compares the show to Clinton, but said, "I think it's clear in the show, that that's not what we're doing."
In fact, the show spent more time looking at Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who, like Leoni's character, has young children that she balances with her high-profile job.