If there is a show that should know a thing or two about change at this point, it’s Designated Survivor — Natascha McElhone is the latest proof.
According to a new report coming in right now via Deadline, McElhone is set to co-star in the upcoming The First Hulu series from House of Cards alum Beau Willimon, and the move over to this show is significant given her series-regular status on the Kiefer Sutherland led hit over on ABC. What this move effectively means is that at some point in the upcoming second season you will see McElhone leave the ABC hit. How that happens is firmly up in the air. She plays the role of First Lady Alex Kirkman, so writing that character out of the series is no easy task — either you find a way to kill her off that makes some sense, or you put her in a position where she has to leave for some other job that keeps her separate from the President. Given that the show is looking to be more White House focused in season 2, this is not the most opportune time for seeing her going out the door.
As a matter of fact, we’re not sure that this casting news is altogether opportune at all for ABC given that it means that for most of the season we’re going to be seeing near-constant speculation on the part of many regarding how this character will be written out. You could even argue that it gets to the point where it could be a distraction. This casting news was going to get out eventually, so you can argue that it’s probably better that it happens now than a little bit later on down the road when everyone is a little more invested in the series. Still, it’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if she lasts longer than just a few episodes this season.
We noted at the start of this article that ABC should be very much familiar at this point when it comes to Designated Survivor changes, especially when you think across the board in the showrunning department. The creative team for the show has been a revolving door, and there are several performers from the first season who are either gone this year or have a lesser role. Virginia Madsen is one of the better examples of that. The show can benefit from change if these exits continue to foster an environment of creative change and risk-taking, but you do also run another enormous risk here. If you do change things up too much, there is not all that much left for viewers to become attached to over time. This is something that most Designated Survivor fans should be concerned about at this point since there’s been so little constancy in such a short period of time.
In the end, let’s just see what happens to Alex both in terms of tonight’s season 2 premiere at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and also the remainder of this season. We’ll be watching closely at CarterMatt.
What do you think about McElhone exiting Designated Survivor now? Sound off in the comments!
Also, check out our CarterMatt Facebook page to get an abundance of additional TV updates. (Photo: ABC.)