Another update to the standard thriller formula is Secret City’s unabashedly feminist bent. Starting with gender-flipping Uhlmann and Lewis’ protagonist, Secret City’s writers made all of the story’s biggest power players women.
In a not-so-distant future, Norway has elected a radical branch of the Green Party, and its charismatic new prime minister shuts down the country’s supply of oil and gas to continental Europe. Despite an impending climate crisis, the EU is none too pleased with this overnight weaning from petrol, and invites Russia to offer Norway “technical assistance” in restoring its fossil fuel production. Russian gunships descend on Norway’s oil platforms.
Most international political thrillers rely on the interplay of fantasy and reality, using real countries and familiar politics in the frame of a fictional narrative. What makes CBS’s Madam Secretary unusual, even within that context, is that its episodes actually borrow from recent international events, relationships, and histories. The show’s universe can often feel like a surreal look into a parallel reality.