Madam Secretary

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Madam Secretary TV Poster Image
Strong female lead in smart, teen-friendly drama.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Strong communication and teamwork can prevail against treason, treachery, and office politics.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The show's central character is a strong woman who exhibits intelligence, shrewdness, integrity, and empathy. She's working in a male-dominated power structure, but she isn't afraid to challenge the status quo to do the right thing and save lives. Her family also provides a positive example of communication.



World events include wars and terrorism. Violent acts are mostly discussed, with very little blood when they're shown.



Sex is infrequent and always implied rather than shown, with bare shoulders and rumpled bedclothes, for example.



Infrequent use of "hell" and "damn."


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Madam Secretary follows a former CIA agent who becomes a professor and then Secretary of State -- and who's also a wife and mother. The show offers strong role modeling of a woman in power and is refreshingly light on iffy content, making it a great choice for families with teens. Many plot lines involve violence, but it's usually described rather than shown, and what is shown has very little blood. You'll also hear infrequent use of "hell" and "damn" and see brief scenes of implied sex (bare shoulders, rumpled bedclothes). There's some social drinking, too.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnessa R. June 4, 2018

A Show You Can Watch as a Family

I'm always on the search for wholesome content and that is Madam Secretary. The show is almost entirely devoid of illicit sexual content, swearing, drug us... Continue reading
Adult Written byLiella1 July 23, 2018

Keep this going

I absolutely love this Show! I don't think i could get enough! As for the lead, she has a fan completely Id say my favorite actress by far!
Kid, 12 years old April 24, 2021

One of my favorite Shows!

This is one of my favorite tv shoes. Currently I am watching it for the third time through. The characters are great and mostly realistic. Every once and awhile... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHeartlandHorses November 15, 2020

Encouraging and Informative Show

This is a great show and is so informative. I love learning all the political terms and everything going on. My mom and I love watching it whenever we get some... Continue reading

What's the story?

When the U.S. Secretary of State is killed in a plane crash, the president (Keith Carradine) visits college professor Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) -- a former CIA agent he once mentored -- and asks her to take the job. But becoming MADAM SECRETARY brings big changes for Elizabeth both personally and professionally, uprooting her husband (Tim Daly) and children and continually challenging her integrity.

Is it any good?

This isn't the first time that TV drama has explored the concept of women in the White House (Commander in Chief, anyone?), but Leoni's portrayal of a working mom in power feels both refreshing and on point, never dwelling on the fact that she's a woman with a tough job but instead focusing on the fact that she's really good at it. Leoni shines as a smart and relatable heroine, and she’s joined by a stellar supporting cast that includes Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, and Zeljko Ivanek.

For fans of The West Wing, Madame Secretary will feel happily familiar, and it's a great pick for families with teens who can process some of the show's more complicated political plots. The fact that Morgan Freeman serves as the show's executive producer has some giddy that he'll make an appearance as a future or former president. But who's to say that Madame Secretary herself won't give the White House a run for its money?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Madam Secretary's obvious nod to the experiences of real-life secretaries of state Madeleine Albright (the first woman in U.S. history to hold the position), Condoleezza Rice, and Hilary Clinton. How does Elizabeth McCord compare? 

  • How does Madam Secretary compare with other series about powerful women in politics? (Think The Good Wife, Scandal and the ill-fated Commander in Chief.) What does it do differently in terms of story and character?

  • What are the real-life challenges for women who hold high positions in traditionally male power structures? How does Madam Secretary attempt to address them?

TV details

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