Jay's Demotion on Season 6 of 'Madam Secretary' Makes Sense, but It's Still a Tough Pill to Swallow

Allison Cacich - Author

Apr. 22 2020, Updated 2:37 p.m. ET

what happened to jay madam secretary
Source: CBS

A lot has changed in the world of Madam Secretary. The political drama’s sixth season, which premiered on Oct. 6, takes place two years after Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) announced her candidacy for President, and she’s about to pass the 100-days-in-office mark.

Unfortunately for us, Elizabeth’s move to the White House means viewers won’t be seeing a few of the staffers who faithfully stood by her side while she was secretary of state. This includes Sebastian Arcelus’ Jay Whitman.

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What happened to Jay on Madam Secretary?

In Season 6, Episode 1, it’s revealed that Elizabeth’s chief of staff didn’t transition over to the Oval Office with his boss, a choice executive producer Barbara Hall had to think long and hard about.

jay madam secretary
Source: CBS
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"The decision I had to make was, what characters need to be most prominent in [Elizabeth’s] new division and her world?" the series’ creator explained to TVLine. "It’s such a different world that some of the other [characters’] jobs were not translated into what we wanted for her…"

Other cast members who will be largely absent from the CBS show’s final 10 episodes are Sara Ramirez (Kat Sandoval), Geoffrey Arend (Matt Mahoney), Kathrine Herzer (Alison McCord), and Keith Carradine (Conrad Dalton). But Barbara clarified that we may not have seen the last of these actors. 

"We do want everyone to be present in the show and are inviting them to be, so we’ll see," she shared. 

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sebastian arcelus madam secretary
Source: CBS

Is Sebastian Arcelus coming back to Madam Secretary?

The 42-year-old hasn’t stated whether or not he’ll return for a guest spot before the series wraps up later this year, but based on an old Instagram post, it sounds like Sebastian may have been blindsided by his demotion in Season 6.

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On May 9, the House of Cards alum praised Madam Secretary fans for their help in securing another season. "A BIG THANKS to each of [you] who donated your voice to this campaign! See you again this fall!" he wrote at the time, seeming to suggest that he’d be back as a series regular.

For what it’s worth, many viewers have expressed disappointment over his surprising departure. "I hate that we’re losing Jay. I thought that character brought a lot to the table," one female fan wrote. Another agreed with her, saying, "he was such a major part of [Elizabeth's] success. The actor did a great job."

is sebastian arcelus coming back to madam secretary
Source: CBS
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Others were confused as to why Jay isn’t considered one of the more important characters in Elizabeth’s orbit. "I would have thought that Jay, as MS' chief of staff, would have moved in to that position in the White House," a third individual noted.

Despite the hubbub surrounding the show’s supporting cast, Madam Secretary is still Elizabeth’s story at the end of the day. "We’re peeling back the difference when a female is in power versus when a man is in power," executive producer Lori McCreary said of the final season.

"Sometimes those things go unnoticed by all of us, and we’re really going to take a moment to point it out to the audience."

We’ll be watching. New episodes of Madam Secretary air Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

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