On 24, It’s All About Family

Most people think of 24 as an action show on steroids.   Poor, misguided wretches!  They obviously have missed the deeper subtext of this gripping drama about Jack Bauer — which is that 24 is all about family, and the deep emotional ties that bind us together.

Consider last night’s episode, for example.  A mother and a daughter are enjoying a conversation in the kitchen of their London, England flat.  The mother puts a kettle on the burner so that she and her daughter can enjoy some tea and conversation.  What a warm, moving family scene!  The mother learns some disappointing news about the daughter’s husband and decides to talk to him about it — because on 24, the families know that you need to talk about your problems and issues.  Unfortunately, the husband won’t change his mind, so the mother has to order her henchmen to — lovingly — chop off one of her daughter’s fingers using a chisel and hammer.  The husband then demonstrates his love for his wife and honors his elders by thoughtfully agreeing to his mother-in-law’s request.

This continues a long-standing theme on 24.  Jack Bauer has always been motivated by family, whether it’s to save his wife from peril (unfortunately, she is nevertheless murdered) or to save his daughter from peril (as she is chased by a mountain lion in the wilds of southern California, for example) or to help his errant brother return to the path of righteousness (by smothering him in a sheet of plastic and torturing him).  Other characters, too, must deal with the pain of loss as their spouses and friends are gassed, poisoned, shot, and killed by rampaging terrorists.  Even the President of the United States must wrestle with the family issues caused by having a wife who is exposed as a cold-blooded, homicidal maniac.

Of course, some might say that 24 really isn’t about family at all, and instead just uses family characters and situations to create drama and promote mayhem.  Ha!  If you read the news these days, who’s to say what’s more realistic — a huggy, simpering melodrama on the Hallmark Channel, or the blood-spattered family carnage on 24?