Netflix Original: Designated Survivor
A review of the massively popular and eagerly anticipated Netflix Original series.
Designated Survivor is based on a real life political concept. It’s basically when the current president nominates one of their staff to sit out of the State of the Union in the unlikely event the government is wiped out. Although a very far-fetched idea, this is a routine which is carried out by the current US administration.
The shows’ creator David Guggenheim (most commonly known for writing the film ‘Taken’) manages to portray the unlikely event in a captivating and action-packed narrative. Tom Kirkman (played by star actor Kiefer Sutherland) is the housing and development secretary and just so happens to be the 'Designated Survivor' when an explosion engulfs the Capitol building and, you guessed it, wipes out almost all of the serving government.
Before ‘Kirkman’ could even begin to comprehend what has happened before him on live TV, he’s being sworn in as US president. Naturally, President Kirkman has a few nerves. After all, it’s not every day you happen to fall into a job making you one of the most powerful people in the world.
After half coming round to the idea of becoming president, Kirkman is ‘chucked in at the deep end’ and is given the small task of finding who was responsible for the terrorist attack on the Capitol; as well as convincing his peers and the American people, he is the right person for the job.
Each episode brings to light a vast array of problems tackled whilst being the president (trade agreements, conflicts, spies — you name it); it’s probably covered in one of the action-packed episodes. Throughout the series, the president is portrayed in a positive light, acting firm but fair and genuinely having the American peoples’ safety and best interest at heart. This means you end up showing a certain amount of empathy towards President Kirkman.
There is also a background story, in which FBI Agent Hannah Wells (played by Maggie Q) tries to uncover to truth about the Capitol building bombing. This storyline acts as an undertone to each episode and has continued onto the most recent episode aired on Netflix (Season 2 Episode 4). It is uncovered that an American terrorist named Patrick Lloyd (played by Terry Serpico) is believed to be behind the attack with Agent Hannah Wells hot on his tail. He later threatens the US government to launch a further attack on civilians using sarin gas unless his demands are met. President Kirkman has to make a tough call and opts to use a drone strike on American soil to neutralize Lloyd.
It’s only when the FBI investigates the charred remains of the bunker Lloyd was hiding in that more questions appear…
My honest review of Designated Survivor is that I think it’s great and I genuinely look forward to each episode week after week. Although the general storyline is very far-fetched, the acting and the way it’s filmed really makes for an interesting and captivating watch. You seem to build a relationship with some of the main characters throughout the episodes, but quickly learn that not all of them can be trusted.
Designated Survivor is a sort of hybrid between House of Cards and 24. It encapsulates the ‘behind closed doors’ political drama of the White House and the sort of fast-paced action associated with foiling terrorist attacks. It keeps the viewer engaged and on the edge of their seat.
I’m unsure why this series hasn’t quite picked up the glitz and glamour of other Netflix Original series, such as The Crown, House of Cards, and Narcos, but instead continues to quietly impress loyal viewers.