There have been numerous examples of Hollywood studios finding success by dropping the woke agenda for five seconds and just making quality entertainment again. The recent “Top Gun: Maverick” film is solid proof of this, as is the hit TV show “Yellowstone.” And now, the limited series “The Terminal List” has become another runaway hit that refuses to pander to liberal Hollywood.
Executive producer Chris Pratt stars in the project, which follows a Navy SEAL who seeks revenge for murder. The Amazon Prime series was slammed by critics, with The Daily Beast calling it an “unhinged right-wing revenge fantasy.” They also complained about how it was, “a wet dream for militia-minded anti-establishment kooks, replete with a Pratt performance as a Navy SEAL who responds to injustice by murdering the guilty with extreme prejudice.”
“The Terminal List” doesn’t officially take a political stance. However, it does celebrate concepts like good triumphing over evil, cosmic justice, and manly men displaying their brute strength. There was a time when this sort of storyline would appeal to both men and women. Now, it’s a concept that’s become controversial and even sometimes “problematic.”
The limited series is based on a book by the same name written by Jack Carr in 2018. The story follows James Reece (played by Pratt), a Navy SEAL diagnosed with a brain tumor who is also suffering the effects of PTSD after a suspicious overseas mission goes awry.
Pratt previously starred as a Navy SEAL in the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” During that time, he became friends with real-life Navy SEAL Jared Shaw, who knew Carr from the Navy. Shaw encouraged Pratt to read an early copy of the book, which coincided perfectly with Pratt starting his own production company and being on the lookout for original projects.
The series premiered on July 1, 2022, and quickly became a hit with fans despite some aggressively negative critic reviews. In its first week, it rocketed to the number-one show on Amazon Prime, and in its first month, it ranked third on the Nielsen streaming chart, with 1.1 billion minutes viewed across eight episodes.
Pratt used those stats as an opportunity for a little trolling.
In early August, the Daily Mail published an article comparing “The Terminal List” to “Yellowstone” titled: “The new Yellowstone: Chris Pratt’s new Navy thriller The Terminal List defies woke critics’ scathing reviews to shoot up ratings chart with 1.6 BILLION minutes of streams.”
The A-list actor posted the article to his Instagram stories followed by a photo of Dr. Evil from the “Austin Powers” franchise with the caption, “One point six BILLLLLLLLLION minutes,” reiterating just how popular the project is with fans.
Carr had some thoughts about why “The Terminal List” was so successful.
“There’s no ‘woke’ or ‘anti-woke,’ but just because there’s not this ‘woke’ stuff that’s shoved into it, then it’s perceived – by critics, at least – as not promoting their agenda, so they’re going to hate it,” Carr said during an appearance on Fox News.
The writer insists his agenda is benign, but that a neutral stance in today’s political climate is somehow seen as conservative.
“We don’t mention right, left, conservative, liberal, none of those things are even mentioned,” Carr continued. “The Daily Beast, in particular, their review was quite mean. But they see an American flag and they get upset. Or they see someone who is competent with weapons and has a certain mindset and holds those in power accountable for their actions they just kind of lose it a little bit.”
Ultimately, the author is unconcerned with negative critic reviews. He’s just thrilled that audiences loved his story.
“We didn’t make it for critics. What’s important to me and to Chris Pratt was that we made something that would speak to those members of the military who went down range over the last 20 years so they could sit down and say, ‘These guys put in the work and made a show that speaks to me,’” Carr concluded.
Reviewers have come to understand that the more the critics hate something, especially if it’s deemed “too conservative,” the more actual viewers will love it. Fan reviews for “The Terminal List” are about as upside down as they come. The series currently has a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an incredible 94% average audience score. Clearly the author achieved his goal of impressing fans.
“As a veteran I appreciate their efforts to make this as realistic as possible,” one Rotten Tomatoes reviewer wrote. Several other reviewers said the show depicted the military as it really is rather than the typical Hollywood version.
“An awesome show, Chris Pratt is fantastic, as a non-right winger this show is for everyone,” another agreed.
“Immersive, visceral and brutal,” a third review summed up. “A good simple story with no bullsh**. Chris Pratt’s acting is excellent. My favorite TV show of the year by far.”
Not every critic panned the series. The LA Times reviewer rated it fresh, admitting that “revenge stories have proved endlessly popular over the years.”
“The basic mechanics of the plot remain simple and straightforward and easy to follow: Set ’em up and knock ’em down,” the reviewer continues. “Not a show for everyone, and not what one would ever call ‘fun,’ but it may just be your cup of tea, with a dash of strychnine.”
Now fans are eagerly awaiting news of a second season of the show. Carr wrote five books about James Reece, and given “The Terminal List” was such a smash success, it almost seems like a no-brainer. But so far, a second season is not guaranteed.
“Chris wants to do it, and Amazon wants to do it. But it could all fall apart,” Carr said. “It would be an eight-part series based on the second book ‘True Believer.’ We shall see.”
Showrunner David DiGilio and director Antoine Fuqua echoed that sentiment, saying before the first season dropped that they “have a roadmap for each season ahead of us.”
“Jack Carr’s written five extraordinary books,” Pratt agreed during an interview with Digital Spy. “He’s quite a prolific author, and they’re all reading the top of the New York Times’ Best Seller list. I think it’d be fantastic to keep it going.”
If “The Terminal List” doesn’t get a second season, it would likely have more to do with ideological differences than money-making potential. Thankfully, we’re not at the point where Hollywood is willing to leave cash on the table just to stay woke. Probably.