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Published:April 16th, 2007 10:23 EST
Why America Loves 24

Why America Loves 24

By Mark Palangio

Fox’s hit series 24 has been captivating American audiences since its debut in November of 2001, but what exactly makes the show so addicting?

For anyone who has been living in a cave for the past 6 years, 24 is a drama/action series centering around the life of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), a federal agent who works for the fictional government agency known as the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). The show is presented in real time, meaning every 1-hour episode depicts one hour in the life of Jack Bauer, with one season combining to make a full 24 hours. The general theme of the show mainly consists of Bauer and CTU trying to prevent terrorist attacks on the US and in turn, saving the world.  

The way the show is presented is one of the main reasons I think people love 24, and this was especially true when the show first came on the air. No other show was like 24, and that still holds true today. The story telling is fast paced and unlike some shows where the plot drags along and nothing really happens in an episode (Yes LOST, I’m talking to you), every episode of 24 is filled with action and dramatic moments. Time is kept in every episode by an on screen digital clock that appears at various moments in the show, and has become a signature for the series.  
Another 24 trademark is the sleek presentation featuring the use of multiple split screen camera shots throughout each episode. The split screens were used more frequently in the earlier seasons, but are still a prominent feature of the show today. By utilizing the split screens, multiple characters and locations can be show at once, so viewers can get a better sense of what all is happening at a given time.

One thing that stands out about 24 is the way the show is written, and namely how the writers can take a character that everyone is supposed to hate, and turn that character into a fan favorite. It happened with Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) in earlier seasons, and the same thing is happening now during season six with Tom Lennox (Peter MacNicol) and Mike Doyle (Rick Schroder). The writers just have an uncanny way of putting those characters into situations where you expect them to do something that will make you hate them even more, but then have them do the exact opposite.

Of course, Jack Bauer is a huge reason that 24 is such a success, you can’t even talk about the show without mentioning his name. Kiefer Sutherland was the perfect casting choice for the role of Bauer. The way he plays the character is great, people just think of Sutherland in real life as Jack Bauer, a complete badass who always gets what he wants and never takes no for an answer.

The fact that the show deals with terrorism and terrorist strikes on the US could also be a factor in why people are so addicted to the show. As unrealistic as some of the stuff in this show can be, a lot of it is 100% believable, and you can’t help but imagine some of the things in the show happening in real life someday. Whatever the reasons, people love 24, there’s no denying that. This seasons two night, four-hour premiere gained its largest audience ever, raking in an average of 15.7 million viewers, and I am proud to say I was one of them.