Designated Survivor, the hit political drama starring Kiefer Sutherland, debuted in September 2016 but was written long before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy. Yet somehow, the show resembles the Trump administration in many ways, at least with some of the issues and situations raised. But according to Kiefer, the show will now try and make sense of this new political climate, amidst a reality no one could have predicted “in a million years.”
Kiefer Sutherland plays president Tom Kirkman on ABC’s Designated Survivor. He was a lower level cabinet member who becomes the president of the United States after an explosion kills the previous president and all other members of his cabinet. With little political experience, President Kirkman needs to deal with a terrified country, political rivals, and life-threatening conspiracies.
A man with no political experience who becomes the president? The real-life similarities did not go unnoticed by Designated Survivor’s star, Kiefer Sutherland, as he notes in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter. But even though the setting is similar (minus the big attack on Capitol Hill, of course), this wasn’t planned, according to Kiefer.
“If [The world we’re creating] collides with the real world on some level? So be it. But if you get into the habit of trying to chase what’s happening, then you’ll be late, because you won’t be able to shoot it and air it fast enough to make it current – and I think those people are having enough trouble.”
However, even if Tom Kirkman was not meant to mirror Donald Trump’s rise to power, Kiefer Sutherland can’t ignore the resemblance. But according to Kiefer, with Tom Kirkman being an independent (rather than a Republican or a Democrat), the show will be able to tackle some real issues by showing two sides of the argument without succumbing to loud political fights.
And with his explanation, Kiefer slips in a jab towards the Trump administration and its definition of “alternative facts.”
“Who would have thought that we would be doing a show that was not only a complete deconstruction of the government followed by the reconstruction of the government, then we would elect a guy who’s main partner is known for saying ‘I want to tear the government down.’
“We couldn’t have predicted that in a million years. It is kind of odd. I think if we can actually take the ideology out of the discussion and actually have the discussion with common sense as what will win the day? That’s a very interesting alternative point of view — and we will be using real facts.”
The most recent episodes of Designated Survivor(Episodes 12 and 13 of Season 1) seem to have turned the tables (again) on the setting of the show and its surviving characters (Warning: Spoilers ahead for the latest episodes).
With Vice President Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman) shot dead by his wife, who then proceeds to kill herself, a major part of the ongoing conspiracy has been eliminated, with Episode 13 revolving more around President Kirkman’s political struggles and his relationship with the press than the dangerous conspiracies.
Without a major threat to President Kirkman’s life, will the rest of Season 1 and Season 2, in particular, become a more political show and discuss issues arising from Donald Trump’s real-life presidency even further?
According to Designated Survivor creator David Guggenheim, who spoke with Forbes, the conspiracy was the concept that put President Tom Kirkman in office, but now it’s time to deal with some larger issues.
“Solving the conspiracy is really important for us to get above water. We’re going to deal with the circumstances that started the show and close it so that we can get to defining how this man will govern without any political history.
“What kind of a platform will he bring forward? We deal with everything from gun legislation to economics and his foreign policy.”
Designated Survivor Episode 14, titled “Commander-in-Chief,” is set to air on March 29, with the promo for the episode promising answers to some of our “most burning questions.”
[Featured Image by ABC]