Designated Survivor: TV Show Review


Designated Survivor, which debuted on September 21, 2016, is presently an ongoing political drama television series, airing on ABC. The show stars Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, who becomes the President of the United States after an explosion wipes out the former President and the rest of the cabinet.

From a thematic perspective, Designated Survivor can be best compared to 24 since they both are political and action thrillers that focus on an impending crisis which involve terrorist attacks and strained relations between the US and Asian countries. Furthermore, both stories follow a no-nonsense structure by delving straight into the point without the use of excessive flashbacks or fillers. This manner in which the plot is given fits the show well, since the use of an abundance of pauses would likely damage the narrative of the show.

Each episode progresses rapidly, and the show distinctly presents concise and clear information. Events unfold one after another in a logical and rapid instance sequence. For example, in the pilot episode, a terrorist attack in the Capitol Building occurs, which results in Tom Kirkman being sworn into the oval office. As he quickly adapts to his new position, different plot twists are thrown in, such as the fact that more terrorist attacks are going to ensue and that he has to break away from his family.   

The set-up, which is used build the plot more through the episodes, seems to fit well with the numerous conflicts arising from the very beginning of the show. For instance, soon after Kirkman swears into presidency, others were skeptical whether or not he would be presidential material. While coping with his new position and responding to the terrorist attacks, he is compelled to assert his authority for others to take him seriously. So far, he has arrested the Governor of Michigan under charges for treason, challenged the ambassador of Iran, and faced off with the Commander in Chief.

The show often tries to captivate the audience by making them have the same doubts as Kirkman has on how to approach the conflicts in the show. One scene shows Kirkman vomiting into the restroom of a bunker after being sworn into the Oval Office. This demonstrates Kirkman’s uncertainty and fear on what lies for him ahead, and these kinds of feelings effectively invoke the audience the same emotions.

One aspect of the show that is unappealing is the inclusion of Kirkman’s family. Designated Survivor does not make many attempts throughout the episodes with establishing feelings for his family.

Ultimately, the strongest aspects of Designated Survivor are in its ability to sculpt a captivating story. This show is especially recommended to anyone who is a fan of 24 or the drama genre.

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