Why Designated Survivor Season 2 Is Still Likely Despite Issues Behind The Scenes

designated survivor abc tom kirkman kiefer sutherland

ABC has one of the most high-profile new series of the 2016-2017 TV season with Designated Survivor. The combination of respectable -- if not quite stellar -- ratings and Kiefer Sutherland as star caused many viewers to expect an early renewal for Season 2. Instead, most of the news that we've gotten out of the show has been about shakeups behind the scenes. Still, we have reason to be optimistic, despite the latest shakeup.

Of course, the latest shakeup is pretty big. ABC is replacing the Designated Survivor showrunner yet again. THR reports that Keith Eisner of The Good Wife will tackle the top job for the series moving forward, in what marks the third time that a new showrunner has been announced. Designated Survivor will be the first time that Eisner serves as a showrunner on any project, working mostly as a writer and producer on other dramas. Basically, the replacement sounds like it would be bad news for the folks at Designated Survivor.

Luckily, there's much more to the story than just a new guy tackling showrunning duties for the very first time. Keith Eisner is replacing previous showrunner Jeff Melvoin (Army Wives, Alias), who will stick around to train Eisner in the particulars of the show. He's also still attached to Designated Survivor as an executive producer, so he should be an asset to Eisner as he learns the ropes. Eisner and Melvoin are slated to collaborate on a second season, which is expected to be announced at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The show has struck a subscription video on demand (SVOD) deal with Netflix that all but guarantees a renewal. The streaming service finalized a multiple-season deal with ABC that gives international streaming rights. All things considered, it sounds like the new showrunner is a sign of the show progressing toward the future, not behind-the-scenes turmoil. In fact, the departures of the first three showrunners happened without much in the way of melodrama. Amy B. Harris of Sex and the City and Wicked City was originally attached as showrunner, but she was replaced when ABC chose to take Designated Survivor in a different direction than originally intended.

Jon Harmon Feldman of No Ordinary Family and Blood & Oil picked up where Amy Harris left off, and Designated Survivor got off to a pretty strong start under his direction. He moved on from the show in December when he closed an overall deal with ABC, leaving the job open for Jeff Melvoin. There's no denying that Designated Survivor has gone through a lot of changes behind the scenes, but the latest change at least seems like one that fans can be excited about.

Tune in to ABC on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET to see what's next for President Kirkman and Co. on Designated Survivor, and don't forget to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations as well.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).