The cancellation of the lowly-rated “The Event” and the killing of Osama Bin Laden may not seem related, but they may symbolize the end of the post-9/11 era in pop culture. In the decade since the September 11th attacks, television and movies have been consumed with real and metaphorical terrorist attacks. “24”, which debuted two months after the attack on the Trade Center, provided the clearest illustration of this phenomenon, with seasons revolving around real nuclear and biological attacks(2002-2004). Jack Bauer, the show’s protagonist, routinely used torture, causing some to see it as propaganda for the Bush/Cheney administration.
Other programs used a less direct approach. “Heroes’” first season dealt with the possibility of a nuclear bomb going off in the form of a “nuclear man” who is predicted to explode in New York City. Following the “24” formula, its second season then featured a bioterror threat. The reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” moved the show from the original’s Cold War roots to a war on terror metaphor with debates over how to maintain one’s ideals in the face of lethal threats to human civilization. “Lost” frequently dealt with the issue of torture, seen through the character of Sayyid, a former Iraqi torturer..
As the decade since the attacks continued, however, these kind of shows seemed to have less and less success. Programs like “Flash Forward” and “V” that dealt with 9/11 style events garnered weak ratings. The same went for “Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles” and now, “The Event.” Clearly, these shows were weaker than some of the ones mentioned above and viewers seem to have less an d less patience for the serialized format.
Still, as memories fade, it may be that the resonance of 9/11 will dissipate and Bin Laden’s death will only accelerate this process