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The Uniqueness of The Blacklist

We live in the golden age of television, post-television, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the DC Extended Universe (MCEU). It goes without saying that there is plethora of media products out there created by diverse sets of creatives. Therefore , we all have a lot of choices when deciding which media product we want to consume.

Well, what is different about this show, the subject of my blog? Is there anything we have not seen done in the action and crime genre?

The Blacklist is an American spy, crime, and action thriller show. It follows the unknown relations of an FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen, with the most wanted fugitive in the show's fictitious world, Raymond Reddington. Once the confusion and distress of Raymond's entry into Elizabeth's life subsides, for both her and those around her a unique settlement is reached. A task force engaged in curbing crime is created, for which Reddington is the informant. Reddington agrees to supply the task force with criminals that law enforcement essentially did not know existed in exchange for Reddington's immunity from criminal persecution.

At first blush, The Blacklist will strike you as another spy, crime, and action thriller. One that has some originality but essentially borrows much from what has previously been seen. However, as an avid watcher of all nine seasons of the show so far, I would not agree.

Firstly, The Blacklist is a show about the wrong side of all our dreams that suddenly came true. We all like to think that we are unique. Virtually all of generation-Z have watched/read either or all of the following: the Narnia chronicles, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and superhero comics and movies. If not, we have engaged with some form of action-packed fiction. A joint facet in all of these action-packed media is that there is a chosen one. Being the chosen one entails making difficult choices because they have been endowed with a unique position. That positions differentiates them from the other characters in the narrative. The Blacklist makes Elizabeth Keen the chosen one. The one around which everything circles. However, we still don't know what makes her special? Why is the most wanted man in the world hell-bent on catalysing Elizabeth Keen's career and endowing her with several benefits? The show has run for nine years so far, and as a viewer, there are still many things I do not know regarding the motivations of the central characters in the show.

Throughout the nine seasons, we come across clues that allude to the influence of Raymond in Elizabeth's life to be far greater than she has conceived.

Moreover, we continue to learn more and more about Elizabeth's past. We are constantly engaged in theorising the connection between the two, and just as we might think the picture is getting more apparent, we are shown our thoughts were wrong. While some pictures of the puzzle are coming together, it feels as though we are still far from getting a sense of the bigger picture.

I have watched many of today's television hits. The Blacklist has differentiated itself by ensuring the audience's constant attention by ingraining small details the audience tries to catch.

Additionally, The Blacklist offers a deep discussion on questions of morality and ethics. The show reflects the developments in real-world technology by its depiction of criminal behaviours. The administration of experimental medicines, equal pay among the sexes, surveillance, and vigilante justice are only few of the topics the show touches upon. Watching such a show can prove educational to anyone who pays attention to the underlying themes rather than only to the action value.

Lastly, the show has delivered consistently on star power and excellent acting. James Spader is at the helm of the show. Spader has cemented the place of Raymond Reddington as one of television's great anti-heroes.

Furthermore, the audience has had the opportunity to enjoy many notable guest appearances on the show. Some familiar faces include Nathan Lane, Isabella Rossellini, Justin Kirk, and Dianne Wiest, among many other famous actors.

I have mentioned several reasons to like the show. However, there is a caveat.

The show is long. Each episode can eat up around an hour of your time. And while the episodes are interesting, it can become taxing to watch them continuously. After nine seasons of the show and not knowing where it is going is rather silly now that I think about it.

I do believe a level of genius has gone into making this. Watching it has been a thrill. However, I am beginning to question how much further its ultimate mystery will drag on, and would I continue to watch it long enough to find out.

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Once again Jehangir, you impressed us with your words and thoughts! I remember my sister being a crazy Blacklist fan, and when I used to ask her what's all the hype about, she never used to stick with one narrative. And now I get it; the manner in which you encapsulated the show's very essence tells us how it has been nothing but a box of never-ending mysteries and unanswered questions over its long nine years. It tests our clairvoyance and compels us to reconsider our perceptions of once-loved personalities. With the exception of Spader and a few others, the characters are often written irregularly, which is to say that they are occasionally clichéd (but then, aren't they all?). Of…


what an intriguing post! Jehangir, I personally really like media texts or crime-action centered narratives which are laden with a certain level of ambiguity and mystery. It is almost like the viewer is being deliberately 'tricked' or led down a rabbit hole by the producer. It also challenges our intuitive skills and urges us to reexamine our ideas about characters we once held dear to our hearts. The narrative crashes right before our eyes just as we are about to stick the puzzle pieces together- rendering it quite experiential, genre bending and experimentative.


Sabeeh - 24020369
Sabeeh - 24020369

Very well written, Jehangir! The way you have written the blog shows how attached and impressed you were by the show but it's length and lack of direction seems to have put you off now.

Honestly, while I have not been in touch with a lot of English media and haven't followed the Marvel and DC Universes, I did watch a lot of Dragon Ball Z growing up and I still watch it xD It probably has around a thousand episodes by now, considering they started airing it in the 1990s. While I loved watching it as a child (and a teen), I honestly feel the same way about it now and can relate with what you said. With the…

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