My friend Casey and I have been going through the show 24 over the past two weeks. We are half-way through season 2. Gotta say, it's pretty damn good. The first season was frustrating and rather repetitive. Season 2 has been more consistant and twice as intense. It's no Battlestar Galactica (not intensity wise, but good show wise), but so far the second season has put it up there with the calliber of Lost. While the first season of Lost might be one of the most sensational starts to a show, each season to follow lacked the edge and consistancy that made that show so addicting (I hear great things about Heroes and will confirm such rumours soon enough). My other friend told me that he didn't like the show because it was too unbelievable. I agree, it is very unbelievable. But alas, I don't watch shows for believability but for the intense writing that connects everything through unexpected circumstances, thus I find that show to be one of the best out there right (I have heard that later seasons dwindle and I will, once again, confirm this later). It's amazing to watch a show that dares to kill off any character. I do, however, find that Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door and Captive) to be there simply because she is attractive. I have never been less engaged with a major character and more annoyed with the choices she makes. I could never watch 24 on a weekly basis because it would ruin me. Watching Lost and BSG cause enough stress in my life-and I still can't shake the season finale of Scrubs. 24 would make my life a living hell because of how into shows I get (oh the days of The OC and House).
I must say though, it is very interesting to watch a show that raises so many ethical issues. The show, so far, does not portray many appealing female characters (season 2 has some, but seaon 1 had none). Further, there are several torture scenes done by the governemtn, and they are by lead character Jack Bauer, who "get's results." Call me an idealist, but I am an aspiring pacifist who does not believe in any forms of violence for they only seem to reinforce the system they are trying to take down. 24 is a prime example of this. We condone what Jack Bauer does because millions of lives are at stake, yet we do not condone what the terrorists do because they are trying to kill us-even though they may have the same convictions and motivation as Jack. Further, Jack's blatant disregard for authority reminds me of the updated cowboy. He's the resourceful lone ranger who flips off the rules and always gets his man with no regard for his own life-and in true updated form has a great care for family. This is John McClaine (Die Hard) on TV but darker. Yet, when I watch this show, I don't care about such things as ethics. This show takes away my moral misgivings about such actions that do not protect the sanctity of life for the sake of the moment. I submit to the will of this and other films and shows.
I know that my theological studies should tell me that I do it for a higher reason than entertainment. I should be looking for a the theological implications of Jack's patriotism and relating them to my committed to God. Perhaps I should be understanding this show in such vague terms as sacrifice, bravery, courage, love, and justice. But I don't give a shit about them when I'm watching the show. Such things will come later, if at all. I watch this show for release. Release from a long or even short day. I suspend my disbelief and watch Jack fight for America (something I would never do) because the show is enjoyable on a very superficial level. Of course I watch other things for that deeper level: Pan's Labyrinth made me question my definition of heaven and hell; Hero took through a martial arts film that spoke against the use of violence to bring change; and Children of Men made me tear up when a world filled with hatred of immigrants was given a bleak glimpse of hope through the sight of the first child burn in almost 20 years. But 24 is, while layered and intelligent, truly enjoyable because it is escapist. This serves as an important example of the significance of aesthetics in art. Anything art worth the process it took to gain an audience will engage people on this level. Some art will go deeper, but this "superficial" is the most important part. This is something socially driven art must learn-artistic mediums must be properly used with talent in order to create an effective message.
24 is straight up good. Call me a TV whore, but I enjoy and get more out of the community I form watching this and other such shows than I would from church or a prayer group. I'm not a bad Christian. I'm just being more honest than those who claim to have a more holy purpose in life. 24 serves no greater purpose in my life than giving me a story. I see little wrong with this for we do it all the time. And if anyone has a problem with it...I don't care.