Amazon is cornering the dad TV market

While superhero movies remain Hollywood’s blockbusters, not even new entries from the Marvel Cinematic Universe can compete Top gun: Maverick in 2022. After making nearly $1.5 billion at the box office, Independent thinking person won’t go down in the books as just the highest-grossing movie of the year: it’s also the commercial highlight of Tom Cruise’s career. Independent thinking personThe success of ‘s can be attributed to many things: nostalgia for the original Top gun, Cruise’s enduring appeal as an action star, Cruise’s unwavering desire to risk his life for our entertainment by piloting a real fighter jet. But one major takeaway from the movie that lit up the box office may have flown under the radar: audiences have been starving for Dad Cinema in recent years, and Independent thinking person it was a five course meal.

For those of us feeling superhero fatigue, an old fashioned crowd pleaser Independent thinking person is a powerful reminder that today’s blockbusters don’t have to be so homogeneous. Hopefully, Independent thinking person will convince major studios that it is worth putting more resources into projects that can be classified as Dad Cinema. (Michael Manns Ferrari can’t come soon enough.) In the meantime, you can still get something close to a Dad Cinema fix through its worthy small-screen counterpart: Dad TV.

As you’d expect from the Peak TV era, there’s such a plethora of shows being made that some – be it Peaky Blinders, Boschor Billions, to name a few – inevitably targets the father demographic. But within the broader umbrella of Dad Television, Amazon Prime Video has conquered a beloved subgenre: the political action thriller. More specifically, I’m referring to shows loosely adapted from thriller novels that I’ll refer to as the Amazon Jacks: Jack Ryan, Reacher (the title character’s first name: Jack), and The terminal list (the series’ main protagonist is called James Reece, but it’s based on a book by – wait for it – former Navy SEAL Jack Carr). All three of these shows released a season in 2022, and while the Amazon Jacks are of different quality levels, they scratch the same itch by following characters with military backgrounds who don’t mind getting their hands dirty to save the day.

The Amazon Jacks follow a familiar pattern: the protagonist must protect our nation and its core values ​​from wider plots that threaten it and, in some cases, settle a personal score along the way. In ReacherJack Reacher (played by the very large Alan Ritchson), former military police officer turned rogue drifter, heads to the fictional town of Margrave, Georgia, to investigate the death of his brother before uncovering a larger plot of corruption connected with counterfeiting. The terminal list sees the aforementioned Reece (Chris Pratt) narrowly survive an ambush in Syria that takes out the rest of his SEAL platoon, only to learn that trouble has followed him home and threatens those closest to him. And in the third season of Jack Ryanis the eponymous CIA analyst (John Krasinski) in a race against time to prevent Russian extremists from overthrowing the president – note: a fictional figure, not Vladimir Putin – and setting in motion a chain of events that could lead to the Third World War.

The setups are ridiculous, and that’s part of the fun: the best Jack Ryan adaptations tend to the inherent absurdity of one man – someone who, despite being a former Marine, feels more at home behind a desk – for the sake of of work is put into action to save his country. (The biggest problem with the last season of Jack Ryan is that our courageous analyst steps in a bit at comfortable as a conventional action hero.) The other essential component is narrative misdirection: Just when you think you’ve got to the bottom of the core mystery, these shows like to throw a late curveball at the audience. For example, it is revealed at the end of Reacherseason one that (spoiler alert) the FBI agent helping Reacher was part of the counterfeiting operation all along, as he, like a Russian nesting doll, Jack Ryan Season 3 keeps revealing new geopolitical conspirators, which at least seem thematically appropriate.

To be clear, the Amazon Jacks will never be mistaken for a John le Carré thriller in terms of complexity and moral ambiguity. Rather, these series are at their best when they mimic the economics and pace of a truly gripping and deliberately messy airport novel. (Unsurprisingly, the authors behind Jack Ryan and Jack Reacher—the late Tom Clancy and Lee Child, respectively—are considered new airport royalty.) It’s these very traits that make the Amazon Jacks an acquired taste, especially if you consider that the minds behind the source material tend to lean conservatively. Even if Clancy’s most famous fan hadn’t been Ronald Reagan, the author’s politics were undeniable; meanwhile Carr believes so The terminal list adaptation received overwhelmingly negative reviews because “it doesn’t get this waking stuff shoved in.” (I’d counter Carr’s hackneyed complaint by pointing to the relatively positive reception of Reacher and Jack Ryanwhich are just better shows.)

To enjoy these series, it’s best to appreciate the underlying appeal of popcorn: the pulse-pounding action sequences, the hilariously over-the-top macho poses, and the flesh-and-potatoes plotting, which strikes a satisfying middle ground between a mindless Michael Bay blast fest and prestigious thrillers such as Michael Clayton. I’d suggest a drinking game where you take a sip every time a character on one of these shows talks about serving their country, insults self-serving bureaucrats in government agencies, or says some variation of “we got this all wrong.” when there is a last minute twist. However, if you played, you’d probably end up in the hospital. But the Amazon Jacks’ shared features are a feature, not a bug: the archetypal characters and settings can be embraced at face value or with the implicit realization that it’s all a bit corny – either way, it’s irresistibly fun. In other words, if you unironically love the Predator handshake in all its silly glory then these shows are made for you.

Since Amazon has ordered new seasons from Reacher and Jack Ryan—Pratt hinted at that The terminal list will also be revamped – there is clearly a market for this subset of Dad Television. Along with Paramount’s ever-expanding Yellowstone empire, which has since become the most culturally significant small-screen Western franchise Dead wood, it could be argued that programs for dads are the surest bet on television right now, aside from franchise expansions in Westeros, the MCU, and a galaxy far, far away. They won’t be for everyone, but for those looking to jump on the Dad Television bandwagon, Amazon’s trio of middlebrow thrillers is a great place to start your mission.

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