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Abstract

In this article, we argue that there was a representational shift in popular culture representations of female presidents following Hillary Clinton’s 2008 primary run, from earlier representations that were entirely preoccupied with gender to more recent depictions that tried to set aside “the gender question.” We explore three representations of female presidents produced since 2012 that can illuminate popular understandings of gender and the presidency between the 2008 and 2016 elections: Veep, State of Affairs, and Scandal. While all three texts attempt to normalize images of female presidents and break from earlier representations by treating a female presidency as an ordinary course of events, only Scandal normalizes female political power without also minimizing either the significance of gender as a cultural force or the value of the presidency as a feminist goal. These representations continue to offer a limited vision of female presidents and the social changes needed to create the conditions that would clear a path to the American presidency, which remains, in Clinton’s words, “that highest, hardest glass ceiling.”

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