Spotlight on … Person of Interest

Person of Interest is one the smartest, sneakiest SF tv series around. For the longest time you don’t even realise you’re watching SF … that truth sneaks up on you, as stealthy as any of the series’ shadowy characters. At its core,  Person of Interest is a show about artificial intelligence, and what happens when you wake up one day to find that the future is here now … and it’s not as cool as you thought it would be.

I have a confession. The first time I tried to watch the show, it didn’t click for me. I don’t know why, it just happens sometimes. With books, on occasion, as well as tv. But a good friend encouraged me to give it a second go … and wow, I am so glad I did.

Here’s why I love this show to pieces …

It’s smart. Really smart. In fact, I think it’s one of the smartest shows on tv at the moment. It’s also profoundly character-driven, as well as being ideas-driven, and that combination is unbeatable in my book.

Person of Interest is the brain-child of Jonathan Nolan. If the name seems vaguely familiar, that’s because he’s Christopher Nolan’s brother – and co-writer of many of his brother’s films. This is his first foray into tv and he’s established himself as a truly creative, visionary and exciting writer/producer. He’s also no slouch as a director – he makes his directorial debut in the 2nd season and the episode is a ripper.

One of the best things about the show (aside from the truly fabulous work by actors like Michael Emerson, John Caviezel, Taraji P Henson, Sarah Shahi, Amy Acker and Enrico Colantoni) is the strength of the female characters. They’re absolutely wonderful – and, most refreshingly, they inhabit the world without any tedious commentary about them being women. The show shares that sterling quality with Numb3rs – and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in both cases there are really great women on the production teams delivering each show.

Here’s the thing. I don’t mind if a show has a slant towards male characters, or female characters, or has a mix of characters – I just get really pissy when the women are portrayed as lesser-than in order to bolster the manliness of the men, or when the men are portrayed as hapless boobs constantly being manipulated and beaten down by the women.

For me, the best tv is when men and women and a variety of ethnicities are portrayed as people first, gender and/or race a long last, and instead of constantly banging on about inequality and stuff, give us true equality modelled as a no-brainer situation. If tv (and film) have the power to shape society and culture then for crying out loud, give us stories and characters that show us our best possible selves – without forever looking backwards or focusing on perceived slights and differences and injustices. Our current society and culture is flawed, no argument. So give us a chance to see what a better society and culture look like. Give us something to aspire to. Get us used to seeing women in power, women being brave, men supporting those women, women supporting brave and selfless men, all the folk of different cultures being good and bad and hopeful and inspiring, just like real people.

That’s one of the reasons why I love Person of Interest. Because it does just that, intelligently, while also exploring interesting social, political and SF themes in ways that get you thinking, that show you many facets of a dilemma, and doesn’t dole out easy, shallow answers.

The show is currently airing its 4th season in the US. But in the meantime the first 3 seasons are out on dvd and they are an endless delight of entertainment. You laugh, you cry, you gasp, you gape. Sometimes you shout and swear at the tv! It’s super quality entertainment. If you’ve never seen it I urge you to grab the 1st season on dvd. And if you tried it and gave up, might I gently urge you to try again? Like me, you might well be glad you did.

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