Elisabeth Bronfen
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Rogue queens
Veep, Homeland, and Scandal
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For a discussion of the second wave of first female presidents in serial TV drama, Derrida’s critical term rogue is deployed so as to underscore the fragility of their legitimacy. At issue is the way they repeat and refigure the previous female presidents in TV drama, underscoring both the anxiety regarding their political power as well as their resilience as politicians. Bringing Shakespeare’s ambivalent representation of queenship into play, the crossmapping pairs Selena Meyer in the political satire Veep with the humiliation of the queens in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Elizabeth Keane in the conspiracy thriller Homeland is read as a resuscitation of Queen Margaret in the first tetralogy, given that she, too, is caught up in an internal strife among her peers. The couple, Olivia Pope and Melanie Grant in Scandal, in turn, is read as a feminist refiguration of Antony and Cleopatra. Their battle for the Oval Office is read as a jubilatory spin on the defamed exotic queen of this late Roman play, with ancient Egypt revisited in the deep state allegedly embedded in Washington D.C. and its corrupt politics. The open-ended serial format is shown to play into a need to articulate the ambivalences attached to the political figure of the first female president.

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Serial Shakespeare

An infinite variety of appropriations in American TV drama


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