I Watched Designated Survivor (So You Wouldn’t Have To)

The most relatable part of Aziz Ansari’s great sitcom, Master of None, wasn’t the tragedy of dating in the 21st century or navigating through adulthood.

I’m embarrassed to say it’s when Aziz’s friend Brian told his father a little white lie: I have to leave soon. I like to get to the movies early to play the trivia.

For me, it’s not trivia but it’s the First Look segments. Ok, I’m sure a lot of you have no clue what I’m talking about. They are the previews that come on BEFORE the actual previews. Many years ago, this is how I found out about the Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary. I’ve only seen one episode of this show but it seems pretty good. I discovered Irene Adler was also Dr. Moriarty, which was an interesting and peculiar twist. Sorry if I ruined it for you but it doesn’t mean a lot…I think.

This summer, while waiting on the disappointment of Batman v Superman or X-Men: Apocalypse (can’t remember which one), I saw a preview for Designated Survivor. 

Now, if you don’t know what the heck a designated survivor is, just know that I’m shaking my head at you. Someone obviously slept through their American Government class. The designated survivor is more than trivia for history buffs such as myself, it’s the person who is held out of the State of the Union address. This person is the successor in event of a terrorist attack.


This past January, it was President Pro-Tempore Orrin Hatch. I’m forever grateful that our nation’s highest paid napper isn’t running the country. Not to mention this guy looks like a human ventriloquist dummy.

Seriously, this guy looks like the prize out of a cracker jack box. He looks like Jigsaw’s mask from the Saw movies. He doesn’t have organs, he’s stuffed with teddy bear fluff.

If you pull the string in his back it plays a continuous loop of “Greensleeves”. His suit is a 16 husky.


For the purposes of this show, our Designated Survivor is Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Bauer. Oh, wait, this show isn’t a spinoff of 24? You mean to tell me Keifer Sutherland won’t be taking down international criminals one hour at a time without any bathroom breaks?

Well, that seems slightly disappointing already.

Ok, Keifer Sutherland plays Tom Kirkman. This extended First Look definitely had me interested. Even with me being interested, I knew this show could potentially be trash. I’ve been awaiting the premier of the pilot and I watched it so you wouldn’t have to.

If you’re a person who cares about spoilers, I’ll talk to you here. If you don’t care, keep reading and we’ll talk about this show in depth later.

This show is surprisingly good. Sure it’s like Quantico and all those other shows on ABC.  It’s ridiculous network TV at its highest level. There are a few cheesy moments. However, it is fast paced and really entertaining. It won’t require you to dig deep or dissect it but it can be the new show you kinda watch while cooking dinner. That’s no disrespect to the show at all, it’s just a testament to how difficult it is to make a show that is even mildly entertaining. Usually, I watch the pilot of a show like this and never return but there’s seriously enough here to get a commitment from me. Ok, ok, Mr. Robot’s second season just ended and my Wednesdays are open again but that isn’t  the point.

Now, if you wanna read a spoiler or two…









Designated Survivor was kinda lit! Yes, you have to ignore the cliche beats of this type of drama (the adorable daughter, the loving wife, the unassuming protagonist, the troublesome older kid) but there’s still a lot here to like.

Minutes into the first episode, we find out that Tom Kirkman was supposed to be fired. WHOA! NOW HE’S PRESIDENT!!! Sutherland does well in a role that we typically don’t see him in. I’m used to him using brawn but here he’s quiet and meek.



Throw some 1950s soda shoppe owner glasses and an ill-fitting suit on this guy and see how he nails this role.


I was still worried that this show wouldn’t have enough material to ensure longevity but there is a lot to explore here. Within this episode, we have the FBI investigating the scene of the capital, a war looming overhead and a plot to get rid of President Kirkman. I’m all in.

As I stated before, there’s not a lot to dig into here so I won’t. Just know that I watched Designated Survivor so you wouldn’t have to.Now, I can say that you should.  Although there are plenty flaws, I can assure you that the coast is clear. You can come out and join the party.



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