Quantico is a new hit show on ABC that opened with a terrorist attack on the Grand Central station in the heart of New York City. The show garnered a lot of attention, because of its casting choices. The lead in the show is Priyanka Chopra, a successful Bollywood actress. This is the first time an Indian actress has been cast as a lead in an American TV series and this garnered a lot of publicity around the show. However, the biggest show stealer of the show is its storyline. It discusses in detail one of the most difficult topics to discuss in America – Terrorism. In the United States, terrorism is a topic that has taken center stage after the attacks on September 11.
Since Quantico made its debut in the fall of 2015, it has made an impact with its mixed-race ensemble cast. It had a non-white female lead, a gay Jewish man who identifies with Zionism, a devout Muslim woman, all fighting through different challenges to make it through the FBI training and become an FBI agent. After the explosion at the Grand Central, Alex Parrish, the brown girl is the main suspect in the bombing. Then there is the conservative Muslim agent that comes under the line of fire. What Quantico showcases is how easy it to paint anybody a terrorist, because of their skin color and faith. However, the finale actually revealed that the bomb was in fact bought by a Simon Asher, and built by Oren Shelef. Interestingly enough, both of them play the character of religious Jews in the show.
The show has taken a very conscious decision to humanize its characters. Each of the characters has an immersive backstory. The show writers have indicated repeatedly that it is not important where these characters have come from, but what they have gone through. A race, a religion or a language cannot turn anyone into a terrorist, but it is actually a very specific event in the life of an individual that can become the tipping point for them.
Now, this is where the conversations get tricky. When Quantico started, it was just another show following some FBI agents around. Nobody bat an eyelid when the agency was behind the ‘usual’ suspects. However, there was a lot of flak that the show had to go through because two Jews turned out to be the perpetrators. Quantico has opened up a new debate about the conscious or sub-conscious racial profiling that people do.
This and a non-Muslim being a terrorist has stirred quite a controversy. It is interesting to see the discussion unfold. The actors on the show have been threatened on online forums, Israeli groups have come forward to push ABC to cancel the show, and what not. However, the interesting bit here remains this – do you think that all the television shows and the movies that have been broadcast in the States till today were accurate in their portrayal of Islam? Well, it would be safe to say that not all of them were. However, this sudden hue and cry brings to light how easy it is to go with the grain and do what has always been done.
It would be a good time to add here that many of the terrorist attacks on the US soil have been perpetrated by people who call themselves jihadis and the followers of Islam. However, that does not make every Muslim a terrorist. So, why is there no debate when Nimah Amin is suspected? The answer is simple – it fits the plan.
In the world that we are living in today, the word Muslim has become synonymous with terrorism. If there is a terror threat, people with passports from Muslim countries, or those with a Muslim surname will be frisked at airports. There is no hue and cry then and most people think it is logical because, of course, most terrorists are followers of Islam. What we are very conveniently forgetting is that few small groups of people are responsible for these atrocities, for which a much larger innocent community is almost always targeted by the general public.
Events like Boston bombings to mass school shootings are not minor incidents. But, these are considered as outliers. Media portrays them as not acts of terror, but as the actions of a misguided youth or a deranged mind. However, if the very same actions are committed by a person with a Muslim name, it is immediately slotted as terrorism.
With Quantico portraying a Jew as a terrorist, instead of a Muslim and that too in one of the worst attacks since 9/11, the storyline has become difficult to swallow for many. Didn’t the showmakers know what they were doing? Of course, they did. They, however, also knew that this was their USP. But, in the process of grabbing eyeballs, they have also brought up a very sensitive topic to the fore. This was the need of the hour because non-Muslim terrorism is almost a taboo topic to talk about in the States.
Quantico has suddenly made people question the concrete belief that media, movies, and television have planted in our head. This is the belief that only a follower of Islam can be a terrorist. But, Quantico has changed that. It has shown a big terrorist attack first and then blamed it on a non-Muslim. This is the beauty of Quantico’s plot. What it did was first convince the audience that the event was not a regular crime, it was not just some misguided youth wielding a gun, but a full-fledged terrorist plot. Only later does the show sheds light on who committed the atrocity. This has left many a people spellbound. They don’t know how to react to this. It is not easy to digest, and hence, all the hue and cry.
The interesting part is that people have come forward and attacked the TV show for its ‘stupid’ portrayal. What they are forgetting is that the show has never claimed to be a rendition of real events. It is all fiction and anyone can stop watching the show if they want to. However, people on different social platforms going berserk about the show is a testament to the fact that it is not the accuracy of the facts that is at stake here, but the idea that is being proposed by the show is against what the larger public has been fed for years. Watch reruns of the show when you have an awesome television plan from Comcast XFINITY.