Defying the system – TV in the Trump era

Defying the system – TV in the Trump era

2016 will forever be seen by many as a true ‘anus horbilis’. Trump, Brexit yada yada yada. All kinds of over exaggerated rhetoric have been used to describe the last twelve months. Yet in the backdrop of such uncertainty and fear has come brilliant original Television content, which I think has explored the cultural and political themes (inadvertently perhaps) over the past year. Word of warning, there are spoilers galore beyond this point. 

When discussing the idea of revolution three shows come to my mind: Stranger Things, Westworld and The OA are prime examples of tv writers portraying dark and flawed dystopian orders. Yet, against the repressive system’s the main protagonists come together to fight these unjust institutions.

Defiance is the key theme through all these examples. In some vein or form, a ‘fuck the system’ mentality, is explored in all of these shows. The OA demonstrates how the captives of the obsessive doctor Hap become increasingly tribal and unified in their tricky predicament. The precocious kids in stranger things do all they can to protect Eleven from her powerful government agency masters, despite insurmountable odds. Equally, once the hosts of Westworld become aware of their monotonous existence they take on their creators.

In a time where slogans such as ‘take back control’ and ‘Make America Great again’ have been repeated ad nauseam, it’s interesting to see mediums such as Television exploring the theme of overpowering and changing the status quo in such a succinct way.

I write this in a week where the biggest anti – establishment protagonist of all will take residence in 1600 Pensylvania Avenue. Rogue candidate Donald Trump will become the head of the political order that he had campaigned against so vociferously.  The question is will he become more conciliatory or really become the ‘ best job president that god has ever created’. Whatever happens, I hope Netflix, Sky Atlantic and others continue to create content that parallels with the ever-changing cultural landscape that society is experiencing.




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