So, I’m watching this new show, Condor, which is purportedly based on the novel Six Days of the Condor, and the classic 70s film 3 Days of the Condor. There’s a good deal of cringey bad writing and acting, but it’s okay for this kind of action series. Now, the movie version, in particular, is well noted for being a product of the post-Vietnam War/post-Watergate era, with its conspiracy-conscious attitude toward the American government. The weird thing, now, though is that this show was obviously written and produced before the recent turn of events, in which it turns out that Hollywood and the security state are on the same side against the “fascist” Trump regime. So, here, they’ve made a show about the corruption and perfidy of the secret security state apparatus that just so happens to be playing right into the hands of the contemporary pro-Trump crowd’s portrayal of the spies as corrupt and anti-American. Irony can be rich.
Of course, though, there’s the question of whether or not this is irony. What is the political agenda/POV of the show? It’s actually a little more confusing than it first seems. In fact, each episode is ripe with left-wing talking points, about the crimes and venality of America, contemporary and historical. But, here’s the thing: most of this rhetoric is laughably cliché. At one point, one character even refers to crimes against the “gentle” Native Americans. Whatever one thinks about the relations between Native Americans and the European colonists, to reduce the former to some Rousseauian cliché is indeed laughable. It’s almost as if this silly left-wing dialogue is just really bad straw-manning from writers who want to make a conservative or right-wing point.
It is perhaps telling that in a Thanksgiving Dinner discussion where a lot more of this left-wing cliché anti-institutional point scoring goes on, the final word that puts everyone in their place is a definitive affirmation of a conservative confirmation of personal responsibility. So, honestly, I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s either very bad, virtue-signaling left-wing political writing or equally as bad, straw-manning right-wing political writing. But maybe in fact it’s something else altogether. I’m only halfway through the show, so I’ll report back at the end of the first season and see if we can make more sense of it by then.