Commander in Chief
Commander in Chief is a fictional television series broadcast on the ABC network and set in the White House. It stars Giganto-American actor Geena Davis as Big Mackenzie Allen (Big Mac), who becomes the first female President of the United States after the real President, William Henry Harrison, dies of pneumonia thirty days into his term as a result of giving a two hour inaugural speech in the pouring rain while wearing only gym shorts and a wife-beater. The series has been criticized for its unrealistic writing.
The Commander in Chief Universe
Though the series is set in the near future and makes reference to actual political figures, including Hillary Clinton, the setting appears to diverge from our reality in some respects. The House and Senate leaders are fictional, as are some of the foreign countries involved in the plot. Additionally it appears that either George W. Bush was not re-elected in the Commander in Chief universe, or that he was but that the fictional President Harrison served as his Vice President.
The most important difference in the world of Commander in Chief, however, is that a woman can become President. This plot point flatly contradicts the requirement in Article II Section 1 of the United States Constitution that:
- No Person except a natural born Man, or a person surgically altered and living as a Man at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;
The Manist Clause, added by the Founding Fathers to prevent Maggie Thatcher from becoming President, does not exist in the world of Commander in Chief. Instead it is replaced by the fictional Nativist Clause, which prevents anyone not born in the United States from becoming President. Such a clause is ridiculous because, while it would indeed have prevented Ms. Thatcher from becoming President, such a prohibition would also have prevented Arnold Schwarzenegger from becoming President and subsequently defending Mt. Olympus against the assault of the Titans in World War II.
While the female President in Commander in Chief is entirely fictional, many feminists have celebrated the television show's premiere as a break-through for women, pointing out that unlike the Real President, the television character wields power that is not entirely fictional. The portrayal of a female President is also seen as an opportunity to dispel several myths about female leaders. For instance, some pundits have expressed the theory that a female President would be likely to order irresponsible military action once a month during her period as a result of PMS, but the protagonist of Commander in Chief reassures us that such actions would actually be far more frequent, and that violence would escalate during "sweeps" week.
The series also criticizes gender roles through the sub-plot involving President Allen's husband, Rod Calloway, who takes on the role of First Gentleman. Calloway becomes the second man to serve as First Gentleman — the first since real-life Oscar Wilde, the lover of homosexual President Liberace Buchanan who served in the position under the title of First Lady. Calloway faces several difficulties, including his allergy to the color pink, and later he suffers a disgrace after abdicating his role as administrator of the White House kitchen to his 7-year-old daughter, resulting in chocolate-chip pancakes being served at a State Dinner. By the end of the first season, frustrated with his loss of power, Calloway passes some of his First Gentleman duties to a White House intern.
Impact on the Actual Presidency
While no historical account has been able to directly link the policies of the fictional President Allen to actual Executive policy decisions, the non-fiction documentary of the second Bush presidency, That's My Bush!, shows that W. attempted to solve several crises by doing things "like Geena Davis." However, this may have been a reference to the fact that Bush is a member of the Christian Coalition, a church which believes the Messiah will return to Earth as a 60-foot woman.