by Jane Sidley, Political Science major at the University of Vermont.
The show Quantico is a new ABC series that quickly draws in viewers and makes us interested in what is going on within a fictionalized FBI at Quantico training HQ. The opening scene of the first episode has the main character, Alex Parrish, at a bomb scene, and the entirety of the first season explores who did the bombing. The characters of this series are influential and play off each other very well. In terms of representation, the show is ground breaking – putting actors in power who would usually not be in power – ethnic women among them. The creator of the show also explores power relationships between higher ups and those who do the hard work of policing – in this case, with a focus on the FBI.
Quantico expresses the writers’ racial and gender inclusiveness. That said, stereotyping occurs as well, as the show suggests that “undesirables” committed terrorist attacks. While ethnic women were portrayed strongly, Quantico also contained racist elements. Foe example, white male Liam O’Connor, someone working within the FBI as the show unfolds, assumes that main character Alex Parrish bombed the train station due to the color of her skin. Alex Parrish is an Indian American, and appears to be framed for doing this horrible act of terrorism, because she is not white. Also, throughout the season, many other characters of color are accused of doing this bombing, including but not limited to, an African American woman, as well as the Muslim twins who wear a hijab. As a viewer, I wondered about white characters committing this crime, but the FBI never seems to investigate these people. In this sense, Quantico can be seen as a “racist” show, one that might appeal to conservatives.
Entertainment media has been able to play a large role with how American TV viewers perceive certain situations with the U.S. government, as well as confirming classic stereotypes of various demographic groups. As the American Journal of Political Science explains, “Content preference indeed becomes a better predictor of political knowledge and turnout.” Of course, by the end of the first season viewers find out who the terrorist is, and to many viewers’ surprise it turns out to be the white male in power within the FBI, Liam O’Connor. Therefore, it was an inside job, and he was blaming the attack on other FBI employees to cover himself up. Overall, the show Quantico is an influential program, massaging the minds of U.S. TV viewers and offering a complex and nuanced look at the U.S, government’s relationship with terrorism, a s well as American racial and religious minority groups.