Why You Should Watch Designated Survivor
I’m a big fan of binge watching shows, so Netflix has the ability to make me obsessed with something within half a day. My latest TV show crush is Designated Survivor. I’m watching it on Netflix, but the second season is currently being aired on ABC with Netflix showing it shortly afterward. This new combination of binging one season, then being able to catch up with the new season almost immediately is rather good at keeping me interested in a show - I really hope more broadcasters get in on it.
Now, I love a bit of American politics. It’s a bit crazy for me to watch people arguing about abortion and gun control because these issues seem so straightforward it’s alarming what arguments are thrown out there. I also care because of the huge repercussions events in America could have on the world. Plus there’s a glut of satire shows that I love watching as I eat my breakfast. Basically, I’m more upon American politics than I’d like to admit.
Anyway, the premise of the show is around a real security operation carried out by the US government. A member of the United States Cabinet is chosen at random to be moved to an undisclosed, secure location during any event that gathers all of the cabinet together, such as an inauguration or State of the Union address. It’s to ensure that should something catastrophic happen that killed all members of the cabinet, continuity of government would be guaranteed through that one survivor. No pressure.
So, in the show, this catastrophic event actually happens, and we watch Tom Kirkman, the low-level Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, struggle through the responsibility now dropped on his shoulders. He’s a man who was basically fired the day before he was given the presidency and was chosen to be the DS because he wasn’t wanted at the State of the Union address. All of this background comes to light and those real-world chants of “not my president” echo eerily through the show. He really doesn’t seem to be presidential material, or so we think… I won’t go into too much more detail because I’d love for you to watch this show.
Kirkman is played by Kiefer Sutherland, who I was surprised to see as a somewhat reserved, and at times anxious, man. Obviously, he finds his presidential backbone and, after some huge political issues, manages to become the strong leader you want him to be. He’s an independent in the show, which I think very cleverly places him between the two major parties, but a man of neither. It allows a host of political intrigue to play out but doesn’t compromise our view of him as an essentially honourable man, doing the job he has to for the American people and not for anyone’s gain.
If you hadn’t guessed from that paragraph, the show is a drama first and an accurate depiction of actual politics second. The storylines are entertaining but far fetched, and I am completely happy with that. The supporting cast is also brilliant, with Maggie Q as probably my favourite character after Kirkman. She’s tasked with being a tough and brilliant FBI agent operating outside of the law out of necessity, doing so without going to the cliche action hero extreme.
As much as I enjoy keeping up-to-date on US politics, it’s nice to watch a show where the proceedings are fictional and so far removed from the drudging reality we’re faced with. Seeing how a government and a country react to the most extreme things possible is a lot more entertaining than the irrational back-and-forth that seems to happen every day.
I’d give Designated Survivor a solid 4 out of 5. It’s great viewing, but it’s not going to change the world. It is very enjoyable and has some great edge-of-your-seat moments.