Designated Survivor

The Feisty Indian Aunty Watches… Designated Survivor

Dept. of Aunty Analysis

Hello. It is me, your Feisty Indian Aunty, and you’re reading what will be the first of a weekly column for Goggler in which I talk about all the things I’ve been watching. I’m 72. I’m retired. I own an iPad. I have Netflix. I have a world of movies and TV at my fingertips and I watch all of them.

I love movies and TV. I always have. My favourite genres have always been the violent and gory ones. (The more “doosh-doosh” the better.) I am a loveable gangster by nature and I guess these sorts of movies and TV programmes have always appealed to the not-so-secret thug in me. (I will watch anything with Steven Seagal, Sean Connery, “The Rock,” or Jackie Chan in it! In fact, I think I already have!)

This week, I’ve been watching Designated Survivor on Netflix (I’ve finished all three seasons) and watching it made me realise that the storyline was akin to a book I had read in the 1970s.

One of my favourite authors was Irving Wallace and his book, The Man, was based on the political circumstances of what would happen if the President of the United States died and the line of succession fell to a Black man. (The American constitution says that if it the President is unable to do his job, the Vice President takes over. If both the President and the Vice President are unable, then it falls to the Speaker of the House, and then next in line is the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.)

In 1972, James Earl Jones played Douglass Dillman in an adaptation of Irving Wallace’s The Man.

In the book, a series of unfortunate events, leads to the President pro tempore of the Senate, a black man named Douglass Dillman, being sworn in as President. The story was brilliantly crafted and showed the challenges that were visible at that time with racial riots, white activists, an attempted assassination, and even an impeachment. So telling (and unfortunate) of how similar the U.S. is in 2021, sixty years later. 

Designated Survivor

I loved the series and “binged” all three seasons. Kiefer Sutherland is chosen as a “designated survivor” – just hours before he is about to be sacked from his job – becomes the President. As a man who wanted to change politics in Washington, the series doesn’t pull any punches in showing us how hard that actually is. He has many challenges. The side stories, which are centred around the investigation of who bombed Capitol Hill, are especially thrilling. Maggie Q and Ben Lawson are great.

Designated Survivor was a very exciting watch. It was also just smart enough to make you aware of how difficult political life can be for an ethical person who was considered a loser and had no place in the political landscape. It showed how that person grew into his job, took hard knocks, and made even harder decisions. It showed how he managed the daily challenges of trying to please the citizens while managing the political party players, taking  into account the both the politics and the needs of the people. It also showed how difficult it was to be true to himself, while still being the President of a “democracy.”

Designated Survivor may be a show about American politics, but I could definitely see parallels to what happens here in Malaysia too. The power plays. The corruption. The struggle between doing what’s politically right and what’s morally right. The series appeals because so much of it rings true.

Kiefer Sutherland is also very handsome.

Designated Survivor
Editor’s Note: Yes. Yes he is very handsome.

(Note: There isn’t too much violence and gore here, but I highly recommend it all the same.)

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