Despite the questions surrounding Edith Wilson’s role in the presidency while her husband was ill, a woman has never officially held the office of the President of the United States, at least in this universe. TV and film have been portraying women in the oval office since before a remotely viable female candidate even showed up on the scene in the real world.
- The 1953 sci-fi film Project Moonbase holds the title for the first onscreen portrayal of a female president. Actress Ernestine Barrier played Madame President in the distant year of 1970. The film’s futuristic predictions may have been a little off.
- Kisses for My President in 1964 dealt with the topic of the first woman elected president. However, the comedic film focused mostly on First Gentleman Thad’s (Fred MacMurray) funny difficulties filling a formerly female role.
- In the 80’s Patty Duke also took a turn as the first female president on the sitcom Hail to the Chief.
- In the 90’s Glenn Close looked pretty in charge in Air Force One as a vice president negotiating with Russian terrorists for the release of the president.
Then in the new millennium came a flood of women in the White House.
- Hit show 24 followed up its portrayal of an African American president with Cherry Jones playing the first woman president.
- Around the same time on the same network Prison Break gave us the love to hate, corrupt President Caroline Reynolds.
- If you changed the channel from Fox to ABC in 2005 you may have also caught a glimpse of Geena Davis playing president in Commander and Chief.
- Even The Simpsons jumped on the bandwagon for an episode in 2000 that flashed forward to show Lisa as president.
Today you can watch any number of shows focused on women ascending to the oval office.
- ABC’s Scandal had former Vice President Sally Langston take over the presidency for a stint while President Grant was in a coma.
- Both Scandal and Netflix’s House of Cards contain first ladies who seem to have serious eyes on their husbands’ jobs.
- Then over on HBO in the political comedy Veep we follow the story of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a formerly unsuccessful presidential candidate who ends up as a powerless vice president, but who eventually (spoiler alert) becomes president.
- This season Alfre Woodard played the first black woman to be elected president on NBC’s State of Affairs.
- Tea Leoni may not be president in Madame Secretary, but considering the show was inspired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi scandal, a future presidential campaign plot line would not be surprising.
- Finally, if you were a big Parks and Recreation fan you surely picked up on the allusions the show’s finale dropped about Leslie’s ambition to be president coming true in the future.
It seems the idea of a female president is not just a subject reserved for the evening news or CNN. Hollywood is fascinated with writing stories about this possibility and as an audience we’ve shown no signs of becoming disinterested anytime soon. So flip on the TV or log in to Netflix to check out any number of fictional women who are or want to be commander and chief. Better yet, come to The Second Mrs. Wilson to see the story of a real life woman who might actually have been our first woman president.
– Kimberly Shepherd