Zizek has this theory (or buy it here) that the West wanted 9/11, that it was the fulfilment of an unconscious desire for the destruction of "the capitalist utilitarian de-spiritualized universe." We all wanted to wake up from the Matrix, basically. I had one of those "where were you" conversations about 9/11 a couple days ago--those few days right after there were awful, obviously, but I think they gave everyone the feeling that they were living in the real world for at least a little bit, and five years on that can make us a little nostalgic.
I say this because I'm trying to figure out what makes 24 a good show. One reason is that it brings up cultural issues in such a subtle way that you're not quite sure which side the show is on. For every bitchy mannish female boss, there's a douchebag President resorting to prayer as the last option in a hopeless situation. It should be shocking that a show about terrorism has not generated a single major protest in five years. I don't think this has anything to do with the quality of the show. It's just that no one can pin it down.
But what's the attraction of the show? It moves too fast to achieve anything more than superficial character development. And it sure as hell isn't a thoughtful examination of how one goes about stopping a terrorist plot. So it's basically counter-terrorism porn. But as with all porn, the viewer is not really sure which side they're on. Case in point: the most recent episode, in which (spoiler, but it was days ago, so get over it) CTU is the victim of a nerve gas attack. As with 9/11, the viewer is secretly rooting for the terrorists to succeed, as long as we (meaning the main characters) survive. How many faceless drones died without us giving a shit, before Edgar waddles in and supposedly makes us feel sympathy? The important part is not that we care that he's dead, but that Chloe now has an excuse to pull out her m-16. So the show is wish fulfilment in a different way: we WANT terrorist attacks mostly because it gives us justification for the fucked up things our government is doing.
Me, I'm still waiting for Jack to torture somebody who turns out to legitimately not know anything. Funny how he always turns out to be right, huh?