“THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE
GONNA CHANGE PRETTY FAST”:
Dissent, Mobilization, and the Politics of Jericho
This government is corrupt and illegitimate.… It lied about who attacked
us so it could seize power.
—Heather Lisinski, “Patriots and Tyrants,” Jericho
Five years after the September 11 attacks, a television series imagined a large-scale nuclear strike against the United States. Witnessed from the small Kansas town of Jericho, a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon in the direction of Denver. Like the 1983 telefilm The Day After, set in Lawrence, Kansas, Jericho is a nuclear narrative that portrays the country devastated by an attack. But unlike the cold war–themed The Day After, in which the attack emanates from a foreign state, Jericho depicts a homegrown terrorist attack masterminded by a faction of the U.S. government, intent on a covert coup d’etat.1
The nuclear attack is used to sow panic and social disorder, which allows a new government, the Allied States of America (ASA), to install itself over roughly half the country, west of the Mississippi. The new president is allied with Jennings & Rall (J&R), a giant conglomerate whose subsidiary, Ravenwood, is assigned to help the military reinstate order. The series resonates with several recent events, including the 9/11 attacks. In the pilot episode, the mushroom cloud on the horizon stands in for the devastating blow to