Madam Secretary, a political drama about the United States Secretary of State starring Tea Leoni has gotten itself into a true to life, diplomatic row over its portrayal of a fictional Philippine President.
A teaser of next week's episode shows main character Elizabeth McCord, the Secretary of State is in a meeting with the Philippine President played by Joel De La Fuente, when he makes sexual advances at her. The top diplomat responds by punching him, leaving him with a bloodied nose.
In describing the upcoming episode, CBS wrote, "Elizabeth is shocked when the Philippines’ unconventional new president, Datu Andrada (Joel de la Fuente), makes a pass at her during their meeting to discuss his refusal to participate in an Asia-Pacific territory treaty."[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBwcr1AhsLI&w=560&h=315]
The Philippine embassy in Washington D.C> has written to CBS on Monday to protest this depiction. In a statement the Embassy wrote the reason for their action:
While Madam Secretary is a work of fiction, it tracks and mirrors current events. It is, therefore, inevitable that its depiction of world leaders will have an impact on how its audience views the real personages and the countries they represent. This highly negative portrayal of our Head of State not only casts doubt on the respectability of the Office of the Philippine President but also denigrates that way our nation navigates foreign affairs. It also tarnishes the Philippines' longstanding advocacy for women's rights and gender equality.
Meanwhile the spokesperson for current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Ernesto Abella had thrown a subtle shade at the TV series. “I think they’re projecting something that they really would like to say about their own situation. Really I think they should use a fictional U.S. president.”
He is also famous for making crude and sexist remarks towards women, which includes joking about a a raped Australian woman taken hostage in the Philippines, and even making comments about the length of the skirt of his own Vice President, Leni Robredo.
This is something not lost on some people who went on Twitter to air their sentiment,https://twitter.com/chicprotagonist/status/839146292894806016
Some even found the humor in it,https://twitter.com/AARONPVALDEZ/status/838985771314900992 https://twitter.com/StewieOng/status/838975955372666882 https://twitter.com/MillennialOfMNL/status/839024056724684800
Madam Secretary has featured several fictional leaders of real and imagined countries over the course of the series. Some of them have been portrayed as noble, some are tyrannical, and some are morally dubious.
And it is not only foreign leaders who are given this treatment. American politicians featured in the series can be as good or as bad as their foreign counterparts. In fact, Elizabeth McCord would often have to deal with the ego and machinations of members of her own government.
So what do you think of this whole diplomatic row. Is the Philippine government right to protest or are they just making a big deal out of nothing?