Kiefer Sutherland's Thomas Kirkman in 'Designated Survivor' is the president the United States deserves
In a world where the country's political beliefs are questioned every day, watching a fictional character try and go about doing the right thing is more than just heartening; it also offers an example of what a President should be like
They say some people are destined for greatness, not Kiefer Sutherland's Tom Kirkman in 'Designated Survivor' though. Those who enjoyed watching the American political drama will agree that Kirkman is probably destined for a much higher degree of greatness. Thrust to the chair of the President, a role and a duty that he had no idea how to go about and execute, Kirkman was not really welcomed by the nation with open arms. In an age of media sensationalism, fake news and deceptive surroundings, Kirkman climbed the rungs of the ladder one step at a time, until the point that he became the people's president.
In of the episodes, Kirkman famously quotes, "We're not defined by our difficulties. We’re defined by how we respond to them." Aptly put by the man who has to juggle between being the POTUS and a doting family man amid highly stressful surroundings. 'Designated Survivor' season one follows Thomas Kirkman, the secretary of Urban and Housing Development who is nominated as the Designated Survivor before an explosion destroys the United States Capitol building and claims the lives of the President and everyone in the line of succession on the night of the State of the Union address.
Torn between shock and happiness, Kirkman tries to wrap his head around the duties that he needs to discharge and faces a bunch of challenges ranging from figuring out the cause and culprits of the mass murder to assuring the people of the United States of America that he would guide the country back to normalcy.
Each episode throws a new curveball at Kirkman, and despite being a little slow off the blocks, he manages to somehow emerge a winner against all odds. So what makes Kirkman an able problem-solver?
Diplomacy and putting out the fire with a pinch of bravado is probably the easiest way to either charge up an emotional crowd or silence them. Kirkman does neither. Instead, he addresses the nation as a fellow human being, compassionate and sympathetic to the people. And while that really doesn't earn him any brownie points with the people, it was a trait that later defined him as he set about successfully solving the nation's problems, one at a time.
It's this quality that helped him weather the storm in the show. Despite the multiple double-game options that were put in front of him to sort out situations, some rather inappropriately, Kirkman chose the only route he knew — by being honest and transparent, and that won people over. It is easy to picture his honesty as hypocrisy, but over time, it is shown that Kirkman is a man wholly devoted to fulfilling his role and doing a damn good job at it.
Kirkman gets things done with one strength — his principles that are foundational and unshakable. In many ways, Kirkman still believes in the country that he grew up reading about, and while it comes across as fantasy, he strives to make it a reality. In a world where the country's political beliefs are questioned every day, watching a fictional character try and go about doing the right thing is more than just heartening; it also offers an example of what a President should be like.
'Designated Survivor' is simply another drama that shows the good guys winning, but what draws people back to the show is the way Kirkman does it. 'Designated Survivor' imagines a version of 'Make America Great Again' that is free from hypocrisy, controversy and lies.
Season 3 of 'Designated Survivor' will premiere on Netflix on June 7.