The 'Homeland' Season Finale Took Direct Aim at Donald Trump's Presidency
They are not generating many headlines or attracting Roseanne-sized ratings numbers, but there are a couple of shows on television right now that are taking direct aim at Donald Trump and our current political environment. No one is doing it better than Robert and Michelle King over on The Good Fight, the The Good Wife spin-off now airing on CBS All Access (and all due respect, but it is much better than The Good Wife, which I adored).
Right now, The Good Fight feels like therapy. The characters on the series are tackling issues raised by the Trump Administration, and even dealing with the Trump Administration itself (the last couple of episodes have revolved around strategies to impeach Trump and, in this week’s episode, what might happen if the Pee Pee tape availed itself (sadly, nothing)). The show is doing so with intelligence and sharp wit, and approaching Trump with the same sense of absurdity that Trump has inflicted upon the country. It is terrific.
Spoilers for Homeland season seven.
Meanwhile, over on Homeland during this seventh (and penultimate) season, the series has grappled with the divide between the President and the intelligence community, Russian meddling, and the 25th Amendment, among other things. It began with the President, Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), locking up a lot of high-ranking members of the intelligence community after a few of them tried to overthrow her presidency; it dealt with an Alex Jones-like figure in a Waco-like stand-off; and morphed into a storyline where a Russian agent slept with the President’s Chief of Staff and then the Russians used fake news and a very powerful Senator to, once again, try and impeach the President. The conspiracy drove the President to make irrational, self-sabotaging decisions (like trying to fire her entire cabinet), which ultimately led to the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, but none of it is as crazy as the confluence of Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, the Russians, a rotating cast of cabinet members, and a President that governs by Tweet. It’s much easier to suspend one’s disbelief now in shows that involve politics.
What was remarkable about the season finale, however, is that after Carrie Mathison saved the day (as she does), and restored the rightful President to power, Elizabeth Keane did something that we can only fantasize about our own President doing: She resigned. She didn’t resign under a cloud of scandal; she didn’t resign because she was forced out, and she didn’t resign because she couldn’t handle the job.
Elizabeth Keane resigned because she recognized that she was too divisive to lead the country.
“Our country is at a crisis point, locked in an existential conflict over race and identity and culture. The signs are everywhere and flashing red. Something must change. Something bold must be done. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that I have become part of the problem. I open my mouth and half of you hear only lies. That’s not only unacceptable but unlikely to change anytime soon. No single leader can save a democracy, but without a leader you can trust, no democracy can be saved. For that reason, I hereby resign the Presidency of the United States.”
Wow. Can you imagine our President acting so selflessly? No, of course not. He’s a dude. “People will say” I’m stepping down “because I’m a woman,” President Keane continued. “Well, if it takes a woman to shock this country back to its senses, then so be it.”
Amen. Although if Hillary would have been confronted with the same divisive situation in our reality — and we all know she would have — she wouldn’t have resigned for the good of the people, either. In fact, at this point in our democracy, I’m not sure what good it would do, because I’m not sure there is anyone who can unite both sides anymore. We’ve reached a point in which it’s no longer about what’s best for the country; it’s about which side is winning. I suspect, in fact, that in the fictional Homeland world that, even after she resigned, those in the opposite political party cheered, not because of the healing act but because they saw it as a victory for their side.
Still, for a brief moment in a fictional land on our televisions, a President finally acted selflessly and in a way designed to bring the country together. It may be the last time for a long while we ever see anything like it.
Meanwhile, Homeland will be back for one more season. It is expected to undergo a time jump and move to Israel, where it will take up the Middle-East conflict. My guess is that the high-level Russian named Goran, that Saul traded to the Russians in exchange for Carrie, may also play a role in the final season.
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