7 Reasons ‘Person of Interest’ Should Be Your Next Binge Project

7 Reasons 'Person of Interest' Should Be Your Next Binge Project

"Person of Interest" is an unsung hero — the CBS sci-fi drama reigns among shows like "Friday Night Lights" and "Deadwood" as critically acclaimed, but criminally underseen television treasures. Thankfully, this fall it’s coming to Netflix and to WGN America as part of the "Prime Crime" lineup at the end of the month, which means that you
should all really do yourselves a favor and enter Jonathan Nolan’s rich, comic book-like world of heroes, villains and a highly trained, highly adorable Belgian
Malinois named Bear.

READ MORE: Michael Emerson on ‘Person of Interest’ Season 5, Amy Acker and The Machine

In the likely case that you’re not familiar with the show,
"Person of Interest" premiered in 2011, starring Michael Emerson as reclusive
billionaire genius Harold Finch, Jim Caviezel as burned CIA operative John
Reese and an ensemble cast of supporting characters who work together to try
and prevent crimes before they happen. They’re able to do so with the guidance
of Finch’s invention, "The Machine," an artificial intelligence with
unfettered access to all means of surveillance in the country (but mostly wherever the L train can take them).

Nolan essentially pitched "Person of Interest" to CBS as a superhero series
without the capes and spandex and, after four years, it has remained just that — which makes sense, given the first reason why the show deserves a top spot on your binge list.

1) Jonathan Nolan and
J.J. Abrams 

With household names heading a show on America’s most
popular television network, you might think there would be more interest (ha)
in "Person of Interest."

The producers behind commercial and critical successes like
"Inception," the "Dark Knight" trilogy and "Fringe" team up
in the best ways possible to create a series that is part crime-solving
procedural, part serialized dystopian sci-fi, and all awesome. Abrams takes
more of a backseat in all of this to give Nolan and executive producer Greg
Plageman more room to shine, and shine they do.

Nolan and his team have done an excellent job in the taking
the noir-like qualities of "Memento" and "The Dark Knight"
and instilling them into "Person of Interest" to make a show that
keeps you anxious and interested, but isn’t quite so dark or cynical. Rather, the
show provides a rare sense of optimism in our silent heroes, working in secret
to try and save people before they’re ever hurt — even if they sometimes don’t
deserve the help.

2) Exceptional characterization delivered by an exceptional, diverse cast

"Person of Interest" is a bit of a slow burn, but Nolan and Plageman take excellent care in using this to their advantage, crafting consistently written, beautifully portrayed characters whose emotional and ethical capacities develop so very well over the years. Their relationships with each other do too, and if you aren’t a sucker for watching the lone wolf outsiders finding a family in each other, you’re lying. 

You also get to watch Taraji P. Henson dominate in her pre-Cookie role as noble idealist detective Jocelyn Carter, Amy Acker flirt with everything that breathes as the brilliant, but morally bankrupt hacker Root and Sarah Shahi snark Finch and Reese up and down the eastern seaboard as the ex-doctor, ex-marine, ex-government assassin Sameen Shaw. I love dynamic, multifaceted ladies all on their own, but together they’re much, much better and easily help set "Person of Interest" apart from the rest. 

3) More than half of the show’s episodes have
scored a 9.0 or higher at IMDB.

Its lowest rated episode ranks at a still impressive 8.2, and
its highest — Season 4’s "If-Then-Else" — hails second on the site’s
list of top rated episodes of all time, just behind "Breaking Bad’s"
"Ozymandias."

Again, "Person of Interest" burns quite slowly,
but it’s a consistently high-quality trip and when the episodes kick it up a
notch or two, they’re absolutely fantastic. Naturally, much of this quality can be attributed to the
first two reasons.

4) Careful, thought-provoking television

The entire, seemingly fictitious
premise of "Person of Interest" surrounds a top-secret system of nationwide
surveillance that turned out to be pretty real with the 2013 PRISM revelations.
Nolan would go on to say that the only thing science fiction about the show would be the
uproar — or lack thereof — of the system’s discovery.

The
New Yorker
also ran a piece last year on the show’s Season 1 episode
"No Good Deed," and its uncanny resemblance to the Edward Snowden
leaks, which would only add to the idea that these writers are pretty damn
insightful.

When it isn’t foreshadowing
real life events, "Person of Interest" shines in keeping you on your
toes with the uncertainty over whether an episode’s person of interest or,
"number," is the victim or perpetrator of the week. Some of the
show’s best twists build off of this.

5) But also, it’s fun to watch

"Person of Interest"
starts off as your standard case-of-the-week procedural and, over four
seasons, steadily escalates into a subversive, quasi-dystopian thriller rooted
in the war between opposing AI gods. (Really.)

But even before we get there,
we’re treated to a weekly dose of good old fashioned action and espionage. Caviezel
delivers most of the punches as the soft spoken, but totally badass Reese, and even
spent time with Special Forces operatives to make it all look as genuine as
possible.

However, when Caviezel talked to producers about getting a little too
old for kicking ass on a weekly basis — as even the fittest human beings are
bound to get — the natural solution would be to introduce his tiny powerhouse counterpart
Sameen Shaw to share the burden of shooting kneecaps and sassing Finch. She’s an excellent shot and turns into half of the dynamic
duo that Root dubs the "mayhem twins," and the addition remains one
of the best decisions "Person of Interest" has made.

6) Root and Shaw

You wouldn’t expect a reformed killer for hire to get along
so well with a self-diagnosed sociopath, but the vitriolic best bud dynamic
between these two develops as well and as carefully as any of the other
relationships on the show, and it’s amazing. They’re a 21st century
Lucy and Ethel who like shooting people and often threaten to shoot each other,
which one could consider intimidating if Root wasn’t so flirty about it.

The two don’t appear together
until a brief, but absolutely electric first meeting in Season 2 that pretty much everyone considered
full of potential. Plageman recently described his first impression of their
first impressions:  "I think the
thing that struck me the most in terms of the two of them the first time they
were on camera, the moment they were on the screen and she pulls out the iron,
and I went ‘Something that is supposed to be sadistic has somehow become
seductive. There’s something here that we’re missing on the show.’ And we just
went with it."

Good thing they did, because
it’s been my favorite part of "Person of Interest" by far.

Much of this goes to fantastic
performances by Acker and Shahi, and lines like "I couldn’t bear it if
anyone hurt you. I mean, besides me."

Well.

7) The cast and crew love the fans as much as they love the show, and like
to prove it.

It’s fantastic how cool the producers think POI fans are — something they often like to demonstrate via Twitter — and Nolan and Plageman showed it once more when they presented the below fan-inspired highlights reel at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con. You can view the video below, but don’t watch the Season 5
teaser that starts after the 2:40 mark if you want to remain spoiler free. Or
do — it gives me goosebumps every time.

"Person of Interest" returns to CBS midseason next year. Seasons 1-3 hit Netflix September 1, followed by Season 4 on September 22. Syndication on WGN America starts September 1. (You’re welcome.)

READ MORE: 5 Badass Female TV Characters In STEM (And An Instance They Have MacGyvered)

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Comments

Doug McKinnon

As usual with these types of shows, they are good until they bring in the women. Seems this is a symptom of most shows in this modern feminist age. Too bad.

Sofja

This series is truly a masterpiece. The script is so well crafted that it amazes me(from the foreshadowing, the twists, the story arcs and lines), the amazing cast and the character their portray(with such a neck for character development, both as individual and as part of relationships). Truly I cannot recommend this series enough.

Jean Smolen

My husband and I are almost done with Season 2 through Netfix and we are completely hooked. Terrific characters played by an outstanding cast, surprising plot lines and writing with a sense of humor. Sure, it’s often over the top, but it’s fun and we like watching our mostly good guys help people.

Rae Goodrich

Love this show, just wish they would have kept Carter and the other gal who was on there off and on

JASON

Seasons 3 + 4 > Season 1 + 2. There is nothing like a good serialized show. No wonder new viewers are being told to "hang in there" after expressing their disappointment with the first few season 1 episodes on Netflix. I’m so glad Nolan and co. decided to kiss CBS’s procedural MO goodbye and disguised their serialized core show as one. So glad Sarah Shahi is returning to the show!

Jenny

I really hope more people will start bingeing POI now that it’s on Netflix. This show is really quality in every way. Just stick with it during the first seasons and you’ll love it. And know that it becomes more serialized in the later seasons.

Ellie

Root and Shaw are the worst part of Person of Interest. They brought only one thing to this show: rude fans who constantly disrespect Season 1 and insult other fans 24-7! Ever since THEY took center stage the show turned into a shadow of its once brilliance…R.I.P Person of Interest, you deserved better than this…(glad that it soon will be gone forever)

    Root Cavalry

    Totally disagree! Approx. 90% of viewers think Root is the best thing that happened to this show, with Shahi a close second. Only reason CBS cancelled this fantastic program is they really didn’t have any name stars to maintain high ratings. If you joined the show late – much of it makes absolutely no sense!

Skye

Love this article about my favorite show! Sending it to my friends who haven’t seen it yet.

Manu

Root and Shaw are my favourite part about POI, too. They just brought a different light to the show that was missing in the first season. Besides, with their introduction, the serialised aspect of the show kicked in. Best decision they ever made.

Gary Wattson

As someone who has worked on POI all 5 seasons I’m thrilled that it is finding an audience on Netflix. It’s up there with some of my favorite things I’ve ever worked on.

If you are new to POI keep in mind this show started before Edward Snowden. It’s amazing how much POI predicted.

Spooky

Ive started watching this, and I’m hooked! Love all of the characters, and I’m waiting for season four ( september 22nd I think?) I love this show.

ONEHALFOFTHEPHOTOSHOPTWINS

This dynamic cast and crew should be applauded and I am so happy we are finally getting the chance to draw in new viewers through streaming and syndication. It’s one of the smartest shows on TV and frankly, some of the best speculative fiction I’ve seen. Each season raises the bar in terms of quality and the writing is top-notch especially when Root and Finch get into philosophical debates. Anyway, it’s incredible. Watch it.

Jordan

I love this show, such incredible, intelligent storylines with amazing characters with beautiful and natural chemistry. I love the development of Root and Shaw, the actresses do such a great job, very excited for a storyline for them this season

Ahoy

Perfect reasons to rematch Person Of Interest, now that it’s on netflix. I personally love all characters especially Root and these later seasons are intense, well written and acted. And also team #Shoot.

AriyahVansh

Well done Jessica. I think you nailed all the reasons why Person of Interest is such a brilliant, compelling and innovative show. It really began to realize its potential when Amy Acker’s Root was introduced. She was the first character who personified the Machine, treating it as a character rather than a MacGuffin. That’s how the show eventually went full-on cyberpunk and became *awesome*.

Thank you so much for this article. I’ll definitely be using it to convince my friends to begin binge-watching the show.

    Root Cavalry

    Superb analysis Ariy!

At

I love Person of Interest and all the reasons you mention.
People out there should give it a try you will like it.
Also laughable is the constant trying to make Root and Shaw as the problem for ratings forgetting to inform the ones that don’t know that previous to s3 POI was in another timeslot. In s3 CBS changed them to a difficult timeslot trying to improve the network numbers. POI numbers suffered because of that (even Kevin admits it on SDCC interview), add to that the poor promotion from CBS the constant breaks that break the momentum and you explain the current ratings.
Hope for more seasons and anxiously waiting for S5.

Alicia

I find the evolution of Root very fascinating and organic and the relationship between her and Shaw is just perfect. Love this show, love Finch and Reese and Fusco and Carter. And Bear!

Maggie

I was done with this show the moment they killed Carter.

    Scarlet

    Spoiler 😞

K2

I’m sorry, but i have to totally disagree with you here.

The current Person of Interest is just a shadow of what it used to be:
Clever, smart and intelligent.

I also got some facts for you as well:

You wrote about the
"Exceptional characterization…"

Well that was something the showrunners gave up during Season 3, Root and Shaw brought fake COMIC action into the show which was once proud for their realism, but to each it own. They ruined the show for lots of fans. Just look at the ratings…

Then there is the IMBD RATING.

Well 68.545 people voted for Breaking Bad’s episode "Ozymandias" while 5.436 people voted for "If-Then-Else". That itself is a statement.

David

It amazes me to see such intelligent storytelling on broadcast TV. It’s as smart and edgy as a cable show but it’s on CBS. Truly brilliant, idea-based science fiction.

missy

That was an amazing summary of this brilliant show. I’m simply amazed at the fact that there is a serialized show on CBS where a freaking A.I. war is taking place. I love this show for the risk it is willing to take and the characters. Hopefully it being on Netflix will increase it’s fanbase.

Jo

Thanks for this AMAZING summary of the show. I agree with all the 7 reasons and seriously hope Netflix will pick up the show and give it just a couple more seasons, as it deserves.

Meg

POI is fantastic. I love Root and Shaw.

Isa

This show is SO good. Seriously, everyone should watch it. Your mind will be blown!

kasteelwinter

Person of Interest is one of the most subversive sci-fi shows on TV right now. It reaches its full potential when it becomes more serialized in Season 2 & 3.

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voxleo

And if you really want your mind blown, once you’ve watched the series, go back and start all over to watch it again. There are not many shows that get better upon second viewing. This is one of those.

I already liked it so much the first time through that I couldn’t bear to leave it just yet, and treated myself to a review of the first year that was now far enough away in real time for me to have forgotten enough details to enjoy it again, and found that it was only enhanced by what I did managed to retain. It is SO good that you can actually appreciate so many details that you wouldn’t have known to recognize as significant before. It’s almost like the second time through is from the Machine’s point of view, except that now we are privy to the endgame and see how the tiniest hints of what was to come made it fairly inevitable to play out the way it did.

It is a revelation, rather like the way a movie like “the Usual Suspects” or “Unbreakable” or “The Sixth Sense” might be a very different ride the second time through once you know the big twist, but this one has no particular single detail twist that the plot hinges upon. Instead it is more like reliving a historical textbook with the eye of a sociologist who connects the dots of the individual stories within the masses that get grouped together in summary paragraphs that reveal how larger more catastrophic events led to the French Revolution or WWII. It is like seeing how the personal perspectives add up to those events are all heroic stories on a smaller scale, like the Diary of Anne Frank gives us an insight to the daily reality of that time in history in a way that the history texts cannot.

And surprisingly, at the heart of this sci-fi/thriller/crime-drama-action tv show, there is the actual element that makes it all so compelling that gets highlighted in a different way during that second glance. It becomes glaringly obvious and impossible to ignore that the whole thing, from start to finish, is little more than a LOVE STORY. It is a tale of the heart at every turn, which explains why my action thriller hour so often left me reaching blindly for the box of tissues when I least expected it from a show like that.

At least the second time through I was more prepared. But its also fun to watch my unsuspecting friends reaction to getting ambushed by “the feels” when I drag them into this show for the first time.

Even for the Machine, the recurring themes that drive everything that happens are all about Love and Loyalty. It’s beautiful.

Favorite show. Ever. Amazing.

Hannah

When this show first came I out I remember watching one episode on tv then instantly moving to my comoute to binge the rest of season 1. When Carter died it really annoyed me. I liked her character a lot. But this paved the way for Root to become a major part of the show and for that I am grateful. Root is one of the best parts of the show. I actually didnt realise she had a crush on Shaw until they first ‘kissed’, but now looking back at clips on YouTube, Root was a proper flirt haha. Anyways, season 4 sort of dipped until Shaw was shot. After that I couldn’t stop talking about the show. All in all this has been a truly amazing show. The end of season 5 was satisfying. Rip to the soldiers of POI <3

    Scarlet

    Again, spoiler! So selfish 😩

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