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TV REVIEW : 'Ms. Smith': New Women in Congress

April 27, 1993|LYNNE HEFFLEY

"Call them women without apology. They have said to America, 'This is who we are. This is what we are. Deal with it.' "

The triumphant tone in "Ms. Smith Goes to Washington" (at 10 tonight on the Lifetime cable channel) is a bit wearing, but perhaps pardonable. Host Linda Ellerbee's pronouncement that women "stormed the Hill" in the 1992 election overstates the case--there are now six women and 94 men in the Senate, and the House's 435 seats are occupied by 48 women--but women did take office in unprecedented numbers.

With hyperbolic commentary and trite mood music, this congratulatory program profiles four new congresswomen: Patty Murray, the "mom in tennis shoes" who became a senator from Washington; Blanche Lambert, 31, who marvels over beating the man for whom she once worked as a receptionist to become a representative from Arkansas; Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky, a representative from Pennsylvania and the mother of 11--hers, his and theirs--and Carrie Meek, 66, the granddaughter of slaves, now a representative from Florida.

Too much of the hour is spent on the euphoria of women being in what many hope is the vanguard of a new era of political involvement. The strongest segments are with Mezvinsky, whose hectic day wearing out shoe leather as she navigates the labyrinthine corridors of Congress for meeting after meeting gives a sense of the onerous reality of the job, and with Meek, whose personal history and dedicated supporters supply emotional depth.

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