It has become a trend for TV shows and movies to take part in political discussions whether it be subtle or revolved around it. Madam Secretary is no stranger to portraying controversial topics and letting viewers debate about each episode. Season five’s midseason finale was a heavy tone that was all about family separation at the Mexico-United States borderline that reflected reality.
“Family Separation Part 1” was the 100th episode of Madam Secretary. The episode was full of anger, sadness, and shock which were all the emotions running through people who actually watched it take place in the real world. It was a trying time for both countries.
Creator and executive producer Barbara Hall wanted the show to address and acknowledge the huge problem going on in the United States. “It felt like a very current event. It’s something that is really in the forefront of the news and our reality, and it felt like ignoring something of that magnitude made our show feel a little like a fantasy, like we weren’t necessarily doing current events,” said Hall. “It was difficult to find a way in because the family separation policy would never happen under our [show] president — he just wouldn’t support that policy. So we found a way to make that happen based on state law. We just feel like some of the bigger events of our time, we need to be able to address them so that our show feels current.”
At the end of the episode Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) gets arrested in front of the public. “We thought it would be a very big deal for the Secretary of State to be arrested,” Hall tells Variety. “We saw people getting arrested at these protests when family separation started happening. Remember when senators were trying to get into all of these detention centers and not being allowed in? If they’d really pushed the issue they could have been arrested for it.”
Madam Secretary returns January 6 with part two on CBS.