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Jack Bauer has to be one of the unluckiest men in TV history. With eight seasons of disastrous 24-hour-long missions behind him, this counter-terrorist agent is subjected to what seems like a lifetime of misfortune. Having recently binged the first season of this now almost 20 (?!)-year-old show, I have compiled a list of 24 reasons to ditch Elf and Home Alone, and curl up with 24 instead.

1) It’s on Netflix (easy)

2) Fantastic 2000s transitions

With different frames concurrently depicting what occupies each character at the same moment in time, the show indulges in parading peak 2000s cinematographic innovation.

3) Equally fantastic 2000s technology

Cars that receive pictures and send fingerprint scans contrast sharply with the early flip phones. A truly beautiful juxtaposition.

“24) the realisation that, perhaps, there truly is something longer than a day in Cambridge in Week 5”

4) Careful use of tropes

Whilst the show seems to be a patchwork of every conceivable trope, its meticulous execution nonetheless manages to sustain an unpredictable and exciting action. I’d confidently assert that not a single episode left me with a normal heart-rate.

5) Treatment of the dark aspects of politics

Set on the day of the California presidential primaries, the plot is intertwined with diverse political intrigues. The show manages to enlighten the viewer by exposing the behind-the-scenes of the election – representing politics for the dirty game it is.

6) Strong marathon material

With 24 45-minute episodes, each covering the action of one hour in the day (i.e. Episode one is 00:00-00:59 etc.), this show is truly marathon-worthy.

7) It’s the favourite show of George W. Bush?

At a baseball game, Carlos Bernard, who played Tony Almeida in the show, heard George W. Bush say to him: “Hey Carlos, all I can do is watch that show of yours. When are you coming back?”. What that reveals about the state of American politics is questionable (although perhaps unsurprising).

“For all the English students out there, I am here to confirm that the show counts as revision for Paper 5”

8) A few bits of (great!) 2000s style inspiration

Low-rise jeans, self-made crop top (lockdown hobby who?) and denim jackets: Kim provides the fashion relief we need in between political conspiracies and assassination attempts.

9) A questionable romantic plot

Kim also provides the odd Stockholm-syndrome romance plot amidst the deeply complex political plot. Problematic? Probably. Classic? Also probably.

10) The ‘fun’ of deciding which person it will cut to after each transition

(Spoiler: there is no consistent pattern)

11) Women with beautifully short hair

Let us all take a moment to appreciate Teri Bauer.

12) Seamlessly introduces the idea of a black American president

In a pre-Obama era, the idea of a black president would have been almost unthinkable. Regardless, 24 introduces this without question.

13) Race issues are dealt with – without the cheap stereotypes

Although Senator Palmer is under threat of assassination, the plot unravels to reveal that this threat is not related to his race. Instead, the issues are more complex, preventing the show from falling into the trap of racial stereotyping.

14) Dangerously gripping side-plots

15) SO MANY PLOT-TWISTS

Is suspicious-looking Tony the mole, or perhaps someone else? Or both? Or neither?

16) Natural lightning becomes a plot element

Considering the structure of the episodes, we slowly witness the sun rising and eventually setting again. This generates an interesting contrast between the night and day, both of which produce the anxiety-inducing atmosphere equally successfully.

17) ^

Offers an additional layer of entertainment in trying to match the time when you are watching an episode with the time of action

'SO MANY PLOT-TWISTS'TWITTER/TEAMDHHX

18) Great use of hacker trope

Fast clicking, confusing screens and incomprehensible computer language – whilst the show does not flop due to cheap stereotypes, no early 2000s movie would be complete without the characteristic, cool, quirky hacker. 24 has many.

19) Relatively well-mixed cast

For the time it was filmed in, it is almost surprising how well distributed the race and gender dynamic is. Whilst no show is perfect and the show is still predominantly white, 24 was significantly ahead of its time.

20) Macbeth/Lady Macbeth dynamic

For all the English students out there, I am here to confirm that the show counts as revision for Paper 5: Mr and Mrs Palmer are undeniably Shakespearean, with a very interesting switch up at the end.

21) Critically examines the corrupt nature of the American legal system

Through dealing with issues such as sexual assault and voluntary man-slaughter, the show critically sheds light on the loopholes to the legal system and the gaps that need to be filled.

22) Breaks down some stereotypes

Despite its characters largely being based on stereotypes, 24 equally aims to target issues that are otherwise concealed. For instance, in the inclusion of a young man who freely talks about his experience going to therapy, which is rarely included in shows which oftentimes feed into the toxic masculinity rather than challenging it.

23) Showcases various family relationships


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24 is definitely not a show of the American Dream genre. Instead, these values are tested as families are split, parents go through breaks and single parents are included. This is America.

24) Realisation that, perhaps, there truly is something longer than a Cambridge day in Week 5

A truly enlightening experience.

If I managed to convince you to sit down and watch the show, you can find it on Netflix and Prime Video.