Enter the Fallout with the Cult Classic Jericho

Toto, we are in Kansas!

The words "Jericho" in static font on a black background

We have all seen The Walking Dead, 24 and Andy Griffith, but what if there was a show that combined the post-apocalyptic wasteland of America found in The Walking Dead with the high intrigue of 24 but also the small town America found in Andy Griffith? Well, Jericho may be the show for you!

Ever since the 1950s the idea of a nuclear apocalypse has gripped the imagination of movie and TV audiences and refuses to let go. We have seen many films and TV programs tackle this subject matter, as they showcase the fate of humanity and the planet after such an event. Often in post-apocalyptic media, we get an exploration of morality in a world without law and order.

In 2006, CBS released a TV show titled Jericho. It centers on a small town in Kansas, which must grapple with the fall of the United States after an untold enemy detonates nukes in 23 American cities. Throughout two seasons, the heroes of Jericho learn to survive, and also discover the heart of the terrorist conspiracy may involve the town of Jericho itself!

The program was canceled after one season, but the fans of Jericho rallied together in one of the first TV fan campaigns, and the overwhelming amount of support convinced CBS to renew Jericho for a second season. While the show would end its run with its second season, the showrunners managed to tie up the story’s loose ends and give a satisfying ending to the overarching plot.

A man and a woman stand on a porch in Jericho

What makes Jericho so different from other programs is that it manages to create characters that feel very lifelike. By the end of the series, one feels like they are friends. Over the course of its two seasons, you get to know their lives, loves, losses, relationships, and personalities. When I had finished Jericho, I found myself missing these characters and the lives they lived; it’s this that I think brings back so many people to Jericho time and again to re-watch.

For example, Jericho’s protagonist, Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich), is a fascinating character study, as we see him grow and transform over the two seasons. At the start, he is not a good man, but neither is he bad; he is a very flawed and broken person out to protect himself. The writers could have given us the standard anti-hero or white knight, but instead, they crafted Jake as a real person. This is the same with the rest of the characters we get to know: we see their fear and panic, and also how they come together to help one another.

Now the main story that unfolds is that of who set off the 23 nuclear bombs and why, and each episode gives us clues as to what is really going on and why, and while we are eager to see this story, Jericho crafts its stories and characters so well, that an episode about getting power for the hospital or putting out a library fire can be just as exciting and meaningful.

For those who have never seen the show, I am thankful to say that while Jericho’s time on the airwaves was brief, the writers managed to craft a compelling story that concluded, so you can watch the series without fear of a non-ending.

You may come to Jericho for the post-apocalyptic story and conspiracy intrigue, but it’s the characters who will make you stay. This brings us to the center of Jericho, which is not the bombs or the conspiracy, it’s the community. Jericho is about the community we choose to build and who we build it with. It asks us what is really important in our lives, and most importantly, what it is in our lives and nation that is worth fighting and dying for, and at the end of the day, it’s not a flag, or politics—as the residents of Jericho see, it’s the person standing next to you.

Jericho is streaming on Paramount+

Written by Byron Lafayette

Journalist, film critic, and author, with a (possibly unhealthy) obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean, Zack Snyder and movies in general, Byron has written for many publications over the years, yet never shows his face. To partially quote (and mangle) Batman V Superman "If you seek his face look around you"

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