“Un-President-ed” Circumstances in the White House

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“Un-President-ed” Circumstances in the White House

Maggie Q. plays the role of Hannah Wells throughout this American political drama television series.

Maggie Q. plays the role of Hannah Wells throughout this American political drama television series.

Creative Commons

Maggie Q. plays the role of Hannah Wells throughout this American political drama television series.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Maggie Q. plays the role of Hannah Wells throughout this American political drama television series.

Aarushi Bhaskaran, Staff Writer

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What happens when every significant member of the government dies? Who takes charge of the country? ABC’s latest political drama, “Designated Survivor,” answers these questions with its premise surrounding this terrifying scenario. Created by David Guggenheim and starring Kiefer Sutherland as President Tom Kirkman, the series is currently on its second season, with episodes airing on Tuesdays.

 

The series begins with an explosion in the US Capitol building that kills all the members of the government except one man — the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Tom Kirkman. Tom was excluded from the event at the Capitol and had been named the “designated survivor,” as the member of government that would take the mantle of the presidency as a last resort in case of a crippling attack. President Kirkman takes on the momentous task of rebuilding the nation with the support of the people around him, including his wife Alex (Natascha McElhone), Special Advisor Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci), the new Press Secretary Seth Wright (Kal Penn) , and the new Chief of Staff, Aaron Shore (Adan Canto).

 

The series deals with a large conspiracy surrounding the bombing of the Capitol. The mystery connects to several people within the government and digs further than it was believed to be. Driven, rogue FBI agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) attempts to uncover this conspiracy, facing growing stakes and personal risk. Agent Wells’s fairly separate plot-line takes a less political tone and explores a more mystery-driven trajectory in contrast to the President’s political issues. Nevertheless, their storylines intertwine and eventually connect from the circumstances through which Kirkman gained his presidency, which are mutually exclusive with the conspiracy behind the attack on the Capitol.

 

The format of the show is comparable to a procedural, handling fairly stand-alone day-to-day political affairs and episodic challenges. However, the conspiracy that looms over the plot is a continuous thread throughout the first season. This aspect of the show creates tension as each episode alternates between the events at the White House and the mystery terrorist attack on the nation. The second season deals with a different conspiracy using a similar format. However, the season is far more lighthearted than its predecessor, with moments of comedy, whimsical sub-plots, and greater on-screen time for supporting characters.

       

The series addresses a variety of political issues in a way that is refreshing. Unlike the jaded worldview of most other political dramas, “Designated Survivor,” does not showcase power-hungry, corrupt politicians as lead characters, rather having an inspirational and honest president in office. It provides hope to the audience in a time of political turmoil without shying away from discussing difficult and polarizing issues of the current events. The idea of the nation coming together in a time of uncertainty, along with a trustworthy president whose only interests lie in the welfare of the country, shows the audience what our nation could be as opposed to what it is.

 

Overall, the series is intriguing due to the quality of the content. “Designated Survivor” avoids the unrealistic, unnecessary drama that undermines its serious premise, as is the case with so many other political shows. The issues explored are relevant, the characters are believable, the mystery is alluring and the premise itself is highly interesting. The second season has slightly deviated tonally from the first season, however, this has made the series more enjoyable to the audience.

 

(4 out of 5 stars)

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“Un-President-ed” Circumstances in the White House