It’s the perfect setup for TV drama: take an attractive woman and put her in a damsel-in-distress situation.
Couple that with recurring daddy issues, and you’ve got the plot for Sunday’s mid-season premiere of “The Blacklist.”
But what about this crime drama has caught the attention of America?
Spader’s character in “The Blacklist,” Raymond “Red” Reddington, is not a particularly likable one. Reddington is a former United States Navy officer who turned into a high-profile criminal, only to voluntarily turn himself into the FBI and offer himself up as an informant.
His demeanor is that of a person who knows something that you don’t know. He is going to hold that information over your head until he has what he wants from you. He offers up a blacklist of impossible-to-catch criminals, but keeps viewers guessing throughout a majority of the first season as to whether he is truly loyal to the FBI.
Red is neither young nor particularly good-looking, and yet he’s wildly popular with viewers. Why?
Because of James Spader.
Spader is doing with “The Blacklist” what Kevin Spacey is doing with “House of Cards” and what many other actors have done with similar roles: transform a character who everyone should despise into a character who everyone is rooting for.
Then we add in Elizabeth Keen, played by Megan Boone, as the icing on the cake.
Keen is a rookie profiler who Reddington insists on working with when he becomes an informant for her unit. She has a traumatic past and is haunted by a fire from her childhood, an event that just so happens to be the only memory she has of her missing biological father.
Her relationship with Reddington has been tense from the first episode and serves as the biggest plot build-up for the show, with viewers constantly wondering if Reddington is Keen’s biological father.
Giving viewers the character of Keen to offset Reddington has proved to not only make Red more human and likable but has moved the plot of the show forward when other shows might have fizzled out.
This tumultuous relationship paired with Spader’s impeccable ability to smooth talk his way into the hearts of Americans has made “The Blacklist” not only a hit, but a show with the potential to last for a few more seasons.