Show shines with fresh take on political games

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR ASKS the question of how well a political outsider does in office.

The United States Government fascinates me.

More specifically, I find it so interesting to see how the federal, state, and municipal governments of such a major world player operates on a regular basis, and how the United States Constitution— primarily written almost 230 years ago—and its short list of amendments ensure that even the most mundane and overlookable regular operations of the country persist. This fascination plays a role in the television series I find very interesting, and is a common distraction when searching through Wikipedia.

For this reason, I was very intrigued by the premise of Designated Survivor, the new ABC series starring Kiefer Sutherland, which explores a scenario often simply considered as a far-fetched, “what-if” scenario. The premise, as the title suggests, follows Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman as he unexpectedly is sworn in as president of the United States. Kirkman served as the “designated survivor” for a State of the Union Address, a mechanism ensuring that someone in the presidential line of succession will survive in the event of a major disaster.

The series revolves around the many issues that arise when the entire legislative branch of the government—along with the leadership of the executive branch—suddenly disappears. Ranging from the obvious, like consoling grieving, concerned Americans, determining the motives and responsible parties, to the completely unexpected, the show does a fantastic job of portraying such an unlikely scenario in a relatively realistic light.

Compared to worldwide hits, like House of Cards, a show that even former president Barack Obama expressed his appreciation for, the show definitely can grow. There were points where the show did feel somewhat bland, and the show has room for improvement in developing the supporting characters and increasing variety of how situations are introduced. However, by and large, the premise of the show and the guidance of Kal Penn, who has previously worked in the White House in addition to holding acting roles, have given the show an exciting draw. Furthermore, the cliffhanger of the first season definitely has me excited for what’s in store.

Full episodes from the show can be found on ABC’s website at, and are definitely worth a watch.