Imagined Hillarys: Feminism, Fantasy, and Fictional Clintons in The Good Wife and The Good Fight

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In the 2010s, Hillary Clinton emerged as a central character not only in American political life but also in its imagined political scenarios. This article considers the centrality of Clinton as amodel for women’s legal and political empowerment in CBS drama The Good Wife (2010-2016), arguing that the show’s generic blend of the television procedural with melodrama and soap is key to both its normative portrayal of women in the corporate workplace and its positioning of
Clinton as an aspirational figure for white liberal feminists. A similar tension is also central to Clinton’s bid for the presidency in 2016, and this article dissects the ways in which Clinton’s anticipated victory has provided a powerful but ultimately misleading “feminist” fantasy for many television shows of the last decade. A final section concludes this article with a brief analysis of The Good Wife’s 2017 spin-off The Good Fight, to argue that this show pivots from a fantasy of women’s empowerment to a much more interesting dystopic picture, tapping into the surrealism of the present moment to convey the difficulty of women’s aspiration under a Trump administration in ways that more directly, if still imperfectly, tackle the failings of liberal feminism to account for racial and economic difference.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of American Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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