Inaccuracies in the New CBS show “Madam Secretary”

The new political drama titled “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leoni in its title role has generally received positive reviews from critics. In the latest episode titled “Blame Canada”, the story line cleverly navigates been two separate diplomatic tussles that inter-relate in the end. One deals with relations between Canada and the United States, while the other deals with the highly contentious nuclear program of Iran, and a broad commentary on current US-Iran “talks” regarding the nuclear issue.

Although the show does have a good cast and a fairly decent weekly drama on foreign relations, there are some inaccuracies that if corrected, would make for a great show. For example, in the latest episode, an Iranian “diplomat” to the U.N., Mr. Javani, whom we see later in the episode, does not sound Iranian at all. The show seems to cast Iranians to play “Arabs”, and Arabs to play “Iranians”. In the “Pilot” episode of this show, (those who speak Arabic or Farsi would have noticed) one of the prisoners in a Syrian prison was pleading in FARSI when dragged on the floor about to be tortured in a Syrian prison while his captures spoke Arabic.

Now, unless you are American and do not speak any other language, and you speak either Arabic or Farsi, you would have thought that an Iranian had been captured by the Syrians, to be tortured. But of course, that was not part of the story line because, to an American audience, it is not easy to distinguish, especially when they’re usually depicted as angry and incoherent!

One other inaccuracy, that might need to be looked at is the secret deal made the Iranian “diplomat” with the Canadian Ambassador to meet with Madam Secretary. I do not know if the writers of the show are aware that Canada broke off official diplomatic ties with Iran in September of 2012. Thus, Canada-Iran relations are virtually non-existent. So, if in the show, the Canadian Ambassador allows an Iranian “diplomat” into the Canadian Embassy in the USA, one would again question such an act.

If the show “Madam Secretary” bases its plot and weekly episodes on actual world events, then there should be a bit more research conducted. The fact is, the Iranians would have no reason to use the Canadians as the “mediator” between them and the Americans, since in today’s political scene, one could argue that the current state of relations between the US and Iran, although still bitterly contentious, is better than the virtually non-existent relations between Canada and Iran.

Oops.

Also, a show’s success depends on good casting, not “stereotype-casting”. The “Mr.Javani” character was not even close to sounding Iranian, let alone looking like one. But, having said all that, the show does seem to be picking up with each episode and there are signs of developing conflicts and issues stretching beyond news reel soundbites of current news and world diplomacy.

I look forward to better episodes to come.

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