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A TV show about a Secretary of State with a philandering husband? Wonder who they mean...

Adam Sherwin on a new drama that the Clinton family may wish to avoid
  • @adamsherwin10

It's the new political drama which has Washington buzzing, with a storyline that is set to make uncomfortable viewing within the Clinton household: Sigourney Weaver in the role of a former first lady to a philandering President who accepts the post of Secretary of State when her own leadership ambitions are foiled.

Indeed, comparisons between the scenario of Political Animals, a series which will launch on the USA Network in July, and the real-life dramas which provided the backdrop to Bill and Hillary Clinton's tempestuous marriage appear unavoidable.

To be fair to the writers, they have made some attempt to fictionalise their story. In Political Animals, the first lady, Elaine Barrish, is newly divorced from former President Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds), who still pines for his ex-wife, and the power he once wielded.

Appointed Secretary of State by President Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar), who defeated Barrish in a fiercely contested presidential primary race, she struggles to balance her relationship with her twin sons and former husband, while dealing with crises in the State Department. She also has to deal with a scheming Vice-President and "a hungry DC journalist bent on destroying her career".

Political Animals was created by Greg Berlanti, producer of the family drama series Brothers & Sisters and Laurence Mark, whose credits include the Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire. Linda Powell, the daughter of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, will appear in the first episode of the new show as the national security adviser to the President.

This year's presidential election has prompted a wave of drama and comedy series with a White House theme. But it is the dysfunctional behaviour of those who seek office, in contrast to the idealistic politicos who populated NBC's long-running hit The West Wing, which is fuelling the current crop of commissions.

HBO has ordered a second series of Veep, the series about a largely powerless and neurotic Vice-President, starring Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a former senator thrust into this political void. Written by Armando Iannucci, creator of The Thick Of It, Veep's cast of machinating spin doctors and consultants shocked some viewers with its cynicism.

Domestic conflict between a First Family living in The White House is the theme of 1600 Penn, NBC's latest attempt at a political ratings winner. Bill Pullman stars as President Dale Gilchrist with the Dharma and Greg actress Jenna Elfman as the First Lady, in the comedy series which will premiere in the autumn.

1600 Penn should have the ring of authenticity as it is produced by Jon Lovett, President Obama's former speech-writer, who worked with Mr Obama for three years.


Sigourney Weaver makes her TV series debut as Elaine Barrish, a former first lady on the rebound after divorce from former President Bud Hammond.


Northern Irish actor Ciaran Hinds is Bud Hammond, a former President whose popularity has tumbled because of his affairs and divorce from Elaine.

the security adviser

Law & Order actress Linda Powell, daughter of former Secretary of State Colin, plays the President's national security adviser.

The vice-president

Dylan Baker, star of The Good Wife, plays Barrish's opponent Fred Collier, who knows secrets that could destroy her.