Dear NBC, About that Episode of The Blacklist…


Image: nbc.com

Image: nbc.com

Dear Blacklist producers,

I’ve been binge-watching season 3 on Netflix. Since you probably won’t actually be reading this and others will, allow me to set it up.

James Spader plays a larger than life, debonair master criminal who helps the FBI bag other master criminals, but really, the FBI is helping him in plans it has no knowledge of.

It’s an enjoyable enough series, but the end of episode 10 got my goat. Don’t worry, producers, I won’t spoil anything.

All I’ll say is that the International Criminal Court in The Hague is involved. [The Hague, in case you didn’t know, other readers, is the administrative center of the Netherlands.] So I’m watching this episode of your series that is set in present times, with all the American technology and fashion and architecture of 2016, when, at the end, I suddenly and without warning, seem to be in rural Poland before the war or something. It’s not exactly clear, because I can’t place the strange wool bag the woman is wearing on her head and most of the people are sitting around with their eyes glued to their smartphones while a sixties or early seventies television is on in the background. I’m completely disorientated. At the same time as I’m wondering how the channel could have changed by itself, it’s beginning to register that I understand slightly more Yiddish than I usually do.

Then something happens that makes it clear that this is supposed to be a family in the Netherlands. In 2016. Where women do not wear gray wool bags on their heads, and where I should recognize my mother tongue. And where ceilings–not to mention roofs–are a lot sturdier, by the way.

I watched the scene again, and this time I saw that there are plenty of clues on the antique television that this is supposed to be the Netherlands, or maybe Flemish Belgium, but the words on the television news make so little sense in the rest of the setting that they didn’t even register with me the first time.

Come on, NBC! First of all, you really couldn’t find a single Dutch-speaking extra anywhere? And then the backward setting and clothing. You do realize that the Netherlands is a progressive western country, a country that is light years ahead of America in many areas, right? A country that has had front-loading washing machines and tank-less water heaters since the fifties? A country that has had wildlife bridges since the seventies? A country where librarians stopped typing catalog cards in the late eighties? A country that has been playing around with hydrogen-powered public buses for more than a decade? A country that now has its first driver-less buses and smart roads? To name just a few completely random things?

It’s time you realize that the Dutch are not some quaint people stuck in time. We never have been.  And even in America, this is the twenty-first century–the Age of Internet. Even if you’ve never been to the Netherlands, there’s no excuse for having such strange ideas about the country. So try and keep up, Blacklist producers. If you can’t, maybe your fictional but well-traveled main character can help. He would know these things, even if you don’t.

2 responses to “Dear NBC, About that Episode of The Blacklist…

  1. I was completely confused by that scene, too. I thought maybe they’d gone somewhere other than the Netherlands after all. Absolutely ridiculous!

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  2. It took me some searching on YouTube and I found the scene you are writing about. It was not the complete episode.

    You are right about the scene, the old fashioned TV, the living-room furniture and last but not least that funny grey thing on the head of one of the woman.
    The only proper Dutch is spoken by the reporter on the “Dutch” news

    The Dutch spoken by the man, you can understand it, but for a Dutch person’s ear rather bad.
    It is rare that in an US film/tv proper Dutch is spoken by actors when required in a scene.

    To top it, suddenly a man, seen in a scene before in a plane, drops through the sealing.
    That makes it so ridiculous.

    Dutch houses, as you very well know, are build to last. Not to crumble by earthquakes, to destroy a sealing just by the falling weight of a person, neither are torn from their place by flooding, or totally destroyed by heavy storm.

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