I’m going to preface this article with the fact that I really enjoyed the original 24 series. I remember watching every week with my parents to see what Uncle Jack would do to fight terrorism and keep America safe, all while not using the restroom or sleeping. It was the best. And I was sad when it ended.
I also understand that towards the end of the show, and arguably during the shows entire run, it painted characters who practiced the Islamic faith in a negative light, whether they were the bad guys or not. I still enjoyed the show. That being said…
24 Legacy is not the show we needed right now.
Now, I watched the first two episodes of 24: Legacy and I enjoyed it. For the most part. It reminded me of what I enjoyed about the strange dystopian setting that 24 took place in where the government is made up of so many different types of people and ideas and if things went wrong, you could rest assured that CTU or the CIA or the Army or just Jack Bauer himself would save the day.
For one thing, Jimmy Smits is running for president of the United States. That in and of itself is huge. He would be the first Hispanic president in the series (and in American history) following a line of presidents that include two black men and a white woman. For a show that occasionally falls back on stereotypical typecasting for “the bad guys”, the show does a pretty solid job of placing people of color and women in to prominent roles and roles that have weight to them.
Hints of greatness
24 Legacy has a few moments that seem like it may have had a different agenda or maybe the show is going to have a clear message of being pro-veteran. And I am all about that. The situation with Veterans Affairs in the US is often disheartening and occasionally disgusting. And you can see that they are trying to make that point with Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer) and Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) are struggling with PTSD and paranoia and how post-combat life isn’t easy to transition in to for some veterans.
The pieces are all there and it seems like they are glossed over to make an easy “the Muslims are bad” plot.
Which brings me to my real point: Did we have to make the “bad guys” Islamic extremists?
Blowing a clear opportunity
I’m an adult human being with the ability to understand that writing, filming, editing, and post-production takes a long time. I also understand that showrunners can’t always account for the world they’ll be living in when their show is ready to premiere.
That being said, come on guys. We’ve been living in the same relative socio-political climate since 9/11 and maybe it’s time we stop perpetuating the idea that “The Muslims” are the bad guys here. After 16 straight years of “random checks” at airports and having their places of worship “mysteriously” burning to the ground and having to deal with racist trolls, we can give it a rest.
Maybe we can pick a new face of terrorism. Maybe, hear me out because I’m just spit-balling here, the bad guys can be white supremacists. Now I know there was no way for any of the shows writers or producers or anyone to really grasp what the world was going to look like post-2016 election. I doubt anyone realized there would be as many Nazis and Nazi sympathizers perusing the streets of our cities and our social media feeds.
I think we’re all feeling the fatigue of having the same antagonists in our media. It’s always the Russians or the Chinese or terrorists from some Middle Eastern country. Always. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two working together.
Where do we go from here?
I know we’re only two episodes in to this series/season/what-have-you but I can already see where this is going:
Big bad terrorist leader places sleeper cells in the US, they make it to places of importance and power, they get activated in retaliation of his death, civilian lives are lost, war crimes are committed to get information on how to stop more attacks, more stereotypical stuff happens, World War 3 is avoided NARROWLY. AGAIN. No one learns anything.
Or something like that.
I’ll watch every week to see what happens next because I guess I am part of the problem, too. Maybe Jack Bauer will come back and it’ll all make sense.