Designated Survivor - Official Trailer ABC

Review: ABC Tackling Islamophobia and Racism in The Designated Survivor

“Designated Survivor” is a new drama series about a lower-level cabinet member, Tom Kirkman, catapulted into the Oval office and the presidency after a catastrophic attack on the night of the State of the Union address killed the president and the Cabinet. Kirkman was the Housing and Urban Development secretary — who was named the designated survivor in the rare case of such a scenario unfolding – shockingly finds himself in line to become the leader of the free world. In episode two, “Designated Survivor” does an excellent job of highlighting the very real challenges of racial and religious profiling that have increased around the world after terrorist attacks. It also accurately portrays the role social media can play in spreading mob like behavior and over reaction in real time.

With many Americans and Europeans feeling scared about potential future attacks from the terrorist group ISIS, especially on the heels of those that occurred in San Bernardino, Orlando, New York City and New Jersey Designated Survivor challenges us to think about the damage of scapegoating individuals just because they share cultural traits with people who have harmed us in some way.

In episode two, we follow the Designator Survivor, performed by Kiefer Sutherland who must summon the courage to deal with a troubled nation during the first 24 hours of his presidency. In episode two race and religion emerge as dominant forces in ways that are controversial, poignant and relevant to today’s society. It reminded me of how our we face ongoing tests to our nation’s commitment to our core values. It is only through trials that we learn if our values are real or only lip service.

Today’s Reality in the U.S. and the U.K.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) in California published new data showing that bias incidents against Muslims in the state increased by 58% between 2014 and 2015, and experts say communities throughout the US see similar trends. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) in California published new data this week showing that bias incidents against Muslims in the state increased by 58% between 2014 and 2015, and experts say communities throughout the U.S. see similar trends.

According to, Hate Crimes against Muslims in the U.K.  are also on the rise since terrorists loyal to the Islamic State launched coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, killing 129 and injuring more than 300, some Muslims in the United Kingdom are paying the price. The report was prepared for the British government’s working group on anti-Muslim hatred by the Tell Mama helpline, an advocacy group that tracks attacks on Muslims in the U.K. According to their findings, Muslim girls and women aged 14 to 45 bore the brunt of the recent hate crimes, which were perpetrated primarily by white males aged 15 to 35. And women wearing the hijab — a headscarf worn by many observant Muslims — were more likely than others to be attacked.

I do wish the show was less glossy. The approach seems dated in an era of gritty production sensibilities and offbeat casting. Most of the shows cast except Mr. Sutherland looks like they walked right out of the catalog of a modeling agency. I still applaud the show for tackling some tough subjects within prime time mainstream television. We’ll continue to follow the Designated Survivor, which airs Wednesdays on ABC. Stay tuned for updates.

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