How will '24: Legacy' play in the era of immigration bans?

The latest take on the successful TV series '24' debuts after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. But some critics are expressing concern with how the show depicts its villains.

Fox/AP
'24: Legacy' stars Corey Hawkins.

TV is returning again to the world of “24,” as Fox will debut the new TV program “24: Legacy” in its high-profile slot after the 2017 Super Bowl.

The original “24” series starred Kiefer Sutherland and aired from 2001 to 2010. Mr. Sutherland and other actors from the original series returned for the TV show “24: Live Another Day,” which consisted of 12 episodes and aired in 2014. 

Now a new program set in the fictional world of “24” but centering on a new character, former Army Ranger Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), will debut on Feb. 5. 

But will “24: Legacy” find an audience in the Trump era? 

The original series often had Mr. Sutherland’s character, Jack Bauer, battling terrorists, and now some critics are expressing qualms about how “24: Legacy” is depicting its villains. New York Times writer Neil Genzlinger notes in his review that viewers may find themselves reflecting on President Trump’s recent action on immigration during the opening minutes of the show. 

“The premiere was filmed back when it seemed unlikely that Mr. Trump would be elected … but the opening moments play as if they were scripted to support the immigration restrictions he imposed last week,” Mr. Genzlinger writes. “The series grows considerably more layered as it goes along, with the panoply of villains encompassing a variety of demographics, yet the choice of a bin Laden surrogate as the starting point is sure to reignite the debate over the demonization of Muslims that ‘24’ has encountered before."

He adds, "Broadly speaking … the world of ‘24: Legacy’ is one in which Islam equals terror.” 

Variety writer Maureen Ryan agrees, writing that the program has “an array of interchangeable and cartoonishly stereotyped Middle Eastern bad guys,” while Washington Post writer Hank Stuever writes that those who oppose Mr. Trump’s recent actions may find the show troubling.

“If you find yourself nodding in assent with President Trump’s executive-order attempts to crack down on Muslim immigration as a means of thwarting potential terrorism, then ‘24: Legacy’ is still right up your alley,” Mr. Stuever writes.

“[A] lack of imagination and depth is what mars ‘24: Legacy.’ It’s why all but one of its black characters are busy playing out a drug-dealing scenario and its Middle Eastern characters are credited as ‘Jihadi No. 1’ and such, while most of the white people frantically hammer at their computer keyboards back at CTU and still have time for humanizing subplots.”

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