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Designated Survivor – all your virtue signals come true


IF YOU want to see what the future output of the British Broadcasting Corporation will look like, you have to watch American TV.

Forget all that misleading nonsense about their ‘passion’ for Europe.

They say they like Mr Juncker from the Wine Lakes. But secretly, they’re more likely to get into bed with Mr Weinstein. You’d only have to analyse their hotel expenses claims to prove that one.

It’s odd that they pretend to love the EU so much. They wouldn’t know Maastricht from Malmo, but these snowflakes all have 52 words for Donald Trump’s hair.

These are the people who step up to the plate, give ballpark ‘fig-years’ and want to monetise their content.

Our licensed luvvies are Mini Mes for American network studio executives. What happens in New York today will be copied in London tomorrow. If Saturday Night Live looks a bit tired, David Baddiel Productions will get cold sores.

So I urge you to watch Designated Survivor on Netflix – if only to see what sort of political dramas we can expect to get commissioned.

Designated Survivor is a sort of fantasy politics soft porn show. If you wanted to summarise it in a poster, the heading would be: ‘Imagine if all your virtue signals came true!’

It’s a bit like an amalgam of Westworld and The West Wing scripted by The People’s Poet from The Young Ones.

Every episode presents one of an endless succession of easily beatable political opponents for the hero to despatch with lines like this: ‘The problem isn’t my principles. It’s your lack of them.’

International diplomacy can’t be that simple, can it, boys and girls?

Oh yes it can! Where are the Republicans? Behind you!

The story is about an ordinary cabinet member who becomes a Democrat President of the US by default after some extraordinary event. But he’s a fantasy politician with a difference. President Kirkman is a just a regular architect rather than a career politician. So he rules the only way he knows how – by a gentler style of politics.

Almost Corbynesque, you might say.

Every week, the Honest John Democrat President is presented with an international crisis which could plunge the world into war, famine, pestilence or plague. Each week one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will cadge a lift from the Republican Party.

Ironically, it’s more offensively patronising to anyone who ticks any box from 2 to 200 on the diversity forms than the entire oeuvre of the Black and White Minstrels.

It actually dehumanises ethnic minorities by setting up and dismissing their problems in a single sub-plot of a 45-minute episode. Scooby Doo had more complex storylines and multi-dimensional characters.

The President, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is constantly being hailed by forelock-tugging leaders of ethnic minorities bringing messages of gratitude from ‘my people’.

For example, a riot will be prevented after the President says some complimentary words to a woman, who somehow speaks for an entire ethnic minority. They will all be pacified, as one, by his non-sexist tone of voice and promises to ‘her people’.

I wonder if, a few years hence, the general public will share my unease about these scenes. It seems like a typical luvvie’s racism of low expectations.

That’s another reason why I would urge you to watch Designated Survivor now. I can’t help feeling that soon some slightly more emotionally intelligent Netflix executive is going to realise how terrible this show will look in a few years time and try to erase it from the Internet.

It really is a screen full of cringe. So expect a British version any time now.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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