I have long been a fan of CBS’ The Good Wife. Yet, the quality of the actors and the show notwithstanding, I take exception t0 producers’ political stunt casting. The Good Wife is one several shows to hire real world political operatives to play themselves, so it is by no means the only culprit, just the most recent. Their choice to cast Valerie Jarrett, arguably President Obama’s closest and most trusted advisor, to play herself on last night’s show was a travesty for a number of reasons.
First and worst, we are in the middle of an air war with ISIS and have numerous domestic economic issues more pressing than to allow for something so unnecessary. I am sure Ms. Jarrett has far more important tasks with which to occupy herself. This makes government itself seem frivolous — and neither side needs any help. (For more fuel on the frivolity fire, look no further than U.S. Senators Flake (R) and Heinrich (D) who are participating in a reality show on which both are trapped together on a desert island.)
Second, Ms. Jarrett’s appearance added nothing. Like Donna Brazile before her (who has appeared on the show several times), they cannot act and are a distraction to otherwise solid entertainment. Both television and film dramas have long worked to blur the line between reality and entertainment. It doesn’t work. We know we are watching TV or a movie — we paid for the privilege. Seeing a real live politician or a news anchor (CBS’ Norah O’Donnell also played herself on The Good Wife last night) does not add an element of reality. It only distracts the viewer in a “look who that is” moment. Whatever value the scene had is lost. The only thing that lends reality to a story is a good script, good acting and direction. Period.
Furthermore, there are any number of character actors trying to feed their families who would have been more than grateful to book any one of those gigs and I can assure you, they would all have done a better job. That’s why they call it acting. I don’t need Chris Matthews or Bill O’Reilly or Norah O’Donnell or Valerie Jarrett or any of them to get themselves a cheap thrill by hobnobbing with actors on a set only to take a job away from someone who could really use one.
Every person I mentioned complains about or has reported on the problems of unemployment in the U.S. So how about not taking money from someone else when you already make buckets of it. Last time I checked, political operatives and news anchors already have a paying gig.
To producers who makes this choice, please take a moment to think about the greater value to your story that you are missing by not hiring a talented, experienced professional who can actually support the material you have worked so hard to craft.
Blurring the lines between entertainment vehicles, the news and politics cheapens all three.