I haven’t watched much TV for years. Despite all the channels, there just doesn’t seem to be many good shows.
But the last year or so I’ve really gotten hooked on Netflix. The dramas and mysteries have captured my attention – even some sci-fi, which I’m normally not a fan of. I admit to some binge-watching. My favorite show of about a dozen so far is “Designated Survivor.” The reason I liked it so much was I’m pretty disgusted with politics – the corruption, backstabbing, etc.
So it was refreshing to view the presidency of Tom Kirkman, played by Keifer Sutherland. It showed how politics should be.
The show is about Kirkman, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, becomes president after the Capitol is bombed, and all of the nation’s leaders are killed.
He takes over in the worst-possible scenario and is second-guessed mercilessly from the start. Yet he leads with conviction, taking the high moral ground on every issue. The show takes on all of the controversial issues of today – gun control, immigration, discrimination, etc.
Kirkman leads not by playing party politics because he is an Independent. He leads by doing the right thing. Time and time again military and political leaders try to get him to take the easy way out, but he stands his ground and makes them search for other options.
Republicans and Democrats continually try to undermine his authority. They want him to fail so their party can win the next election.
So he keeps taking the issues to the people, through the media, which also often tries to undercut him. But by showing the voters the political games that are being played, they often come to his side, and the GOP and Democrats relent to his leadership.
What’s also refreshing is Kirkman doesn’t just throw money at problems or threaten force. He and his staff do extensive research to find other solutions. For example, in one instance they uncover a hundreds-year-old treaty to solve one problem.
Sadly, at the end of the series, Kirkman finally gives in and starts playing politics because he wants to get re-elected. He quits looking for other solutions. We can only hope once elected he goes back to his old ways.
As an Independent myself, I loved seeing a president being effective who was not beholding to anybody. Maybe it’s a dream, but after seeing this I believe it really can be done. And it really is going to take something like this to get this country out of the political-bias mess it’s in.
As much as I liked “House of Cards,” I enjoyed this one even more. It was less about sleaze and more about substance.
Yes, it’s just a TV show. Sometimes TV reflects society. Sometimes it’s ahead of the game. “Designated Survivor” is the latter. If you are interested in thinking about issues and not just rubber stamping what your party believes, you’ll like it. It opens your mind to other ways of doing things – maybe better ways.
P.S. – Here’s a list of other series I’ve enjoyed, in order: 1. Designated Survivor. 2. Broadchurch. 3. Happy Valley. 4. House of Cards. 5. Black Mirror. 6. Safe. 7. Dead to Me. 8. Bloodline. 9. What If. 10. Into the Darkness. 11. Sex Education. 12. Sinner. 13. Quicksand. 14. Stranger Things. 15. Orange is the new Black.
Steve Powell is managing editor of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times. His Backseat Coach column runs as needed.