Since 2001, there haven’t been any shows that have excited me more than 24. In fact, I can’t think of the last show that kept me on the edge of my seat like 24 did during its first few seasons. Its ability to attack terrorism in a way that takes no prisoners was not only timed perfectly after 9/11 it also provided a captivating story. Each commercial break felt like an eternity and the weeks in-between episodes were true tests of patience.
The 24 we see today is much different that the thrilling episodes of years past. This is mostly due to the changing political climate in the United States. During the first few seasons it felt like having a federal agent constantly sending terrorists to meet their maker was an excellent way to personify the post 9/11 feelings of the country. However, in the last four years the politics and attitude towards terrorism in America was reflected in the show, changing it for the worse.
Monday’s American Thinker featured a piece by Rick Moran that discusses the show’s eight season run and highlights why we all fell in love with 24 in the first place:
Bauer is the “Perfect Post 9/11 Hero.” In the first few seasons of the show’s incarnation, he possessed exactly the qualities we wanted in a protagonist who battled terrorism. He was loyal, patriotic, devoted to duty, solicitous of his friends, and a terror to his enemies. But what attracted us most to Bauer was the moral certitude he possessed that allowed him to fight the good fight with the absolute, unbending conviction that he was right. We were the good guys, they were the bad guys, and there was no in-between. If it sounds like Bauer echoed the Bush administration’s warning to the world that if you weren’t with us, you were against us, that’s because he did.
As the seasons progressed the show changed, but many of us stayed with it anyway. The show stuck with audiences because it usually reflected the current political climate of the time. During the most popular seasons, the focus was that of a “kick ass and take names” attitude towards terrorists. That worked great until the Left began to take hold of our country and push ideological and intellectually bankrupt ideas about the war on terror and President Bush.
24 began to fall apart when it reflected the “terrorists are people too” sides of things by having Jack Bauer get reprimanded for doing what it takes to protect our country. While the show was still exciting, it completely turned its back on the ideas that made it popular in the first place.
Moran notes the changes in the later years of 24:
America has changed over the past nine years and that this new Bauer reflects those changes in attitude. In 2008, we elected a man who, for good or ill, promised to fight the war on terror differently. No longer a war, we now rely on international police forces to carry much of the burden in counterterrorism. Even in hot spots like Pakistan and Yemen, there doesn’t seem to be any room for a Jack Bauer to ride in and kill the bad guys before they have a chance to kill us.
What truly killed 24 and Jack Bauer is our current political climate. When the show started, both the American people and politicians in Washington alike wanted to see terrorism squashed. The idea of fighting and defeating terrorism on a global scale was pushed and backed on all fronts. Jack Bauer was the perfect way to personify that.
While 24 may not be as good as it once was it still does a good job reflecting how many of us feel. America’s disappointment with the way 24 has changed accurately parallels our disappointment with the current political culture. Unfortunately, the leftist push against counter-terrorism began to take hold in Washington and manifested itself into the show.
Finding something like the early seasons of 24 that accurately incorporates our patriotism and desire to protect freedom will not be easy. If we want to see more shows about the importance of keeping the free world intact, we must first start with electing the right leaders to do so in the real world.