State of Affairs

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There were two TV shows about powerful women in orbit around the President in the fall 2014 season and thus far I’m not terribly impressed with State of Affairs. The main character here is the improbably named Charleston Tucker, played by Katherine Heigl, who joins a long list of Hollywood actresses flocking to the small screen in search of strong female roles. Charleston is a C.I.A. analyst with a tragic backstory who does the daily briefing for the President, which has the regrettable effect of making the C.I.A. seem very small and also gives the erroneous impression that it serves at the pleasure of the Commander-in-chief. Said president is played by the lovely Alfre Woodard as exactly the type of person currently in vogue to hold positions of power – morally ambiguous, but hey, female!

When it comes to the story lines, implausible doesn’t even begin to cover it. Full of melodramatic shenanigans, self-indulgent moralizing, more “ripped from the headlines” plots and an ongoing game of terrorist Whac-A-Mole, this lacks the finesse and dignity of CBS rival show Madam Secretary. It’s admittedly entertaining pulp with delusions of relevance, a political soap that strains even TV Land credulity. Actually, there’s not much in the way of politics going on here as the vast majority of focus is on personal lives and relationships rather than the world at large. Plus, the only international issue this president ever seems to deal with is the war on terror and the show could have been improved by giving a more accurate portrayal of the myriad problems constantly bombarding the White House.

All that being said, I was only seven episodes into the first season when I first wrote this so it was theoretically possible for my critical assessment to either go up or down in the future. I  gave it two stars because it is interesting enough to keep me watching and there’s enough depth thus far to merit an average rating. Katherine Heigl is an accomplished actress, and Alfre Woodard is superb. I really do like the show, but I’m not blind to its faults. Round one goes to Madam Secretary. Your move, NBC.  [Evidently, NBC’s move was to cancel State of Affairs after its stale first season and I don’t think many people  noticed or even cared.]  – BETHANY

For more on the cast, crew and everything else about this show, visit the Internet Movie Database

There are so many designer clothes worn by characters in this show that there are websites devoted to letting you “shop the show”.  Here’s one of them:

Charlie briefing Madam President.  Wardrobe fashion faux pas alert:  dark nylons with a light pink dress?  Also the CIA must pay well if she can afford a Fendi dress.

          Shhhh, don’t tell anyone I work for the C.I.A.

I want that jacket.  So tailored and elegant!  Alfre Woodard as President Constance Payton.  (What’s with the names in this show?)

Charlie and the C.I.A. team.  Pssst, that’s not a flattering hairstyle, Charlie.

                               Nick Vera (Chris McKenna)  – anything else I tell you about him would be a spoiler.

Charleston immediately following a key event when a situation went seriously pear-shaped  (was that vague enough for you?)

                         Charleston and Raymond Navaro (Nestor Carbonell).

Katherine Heigl having fun on the set.  Um, you got a little something …



Photos courtesy of Aardwolf Productions, STX Entertainment, Abishag Productions, Universal Television and NBC (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)


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