My latest TV interest is unlikely. In fact, I tried the pilot several months ago only to abandon the show immediately afterward. It was dark, it was way too realistic, and frankly, it was crazy depressing. And yet, I continued to see lots of enthusiastic tweets about how great it was by regular watchers whose opinions I admired. After seeing Claire Danes and Damian Lewis win the Golden Globe for the second year in a row (and some healthy prodding from a friend), my curiosity got the best of me. I finally decided to give it another shot.
The element that initially turned me off the show was that it was, in my opinion, mis-marketed. Sure, all the trailers reveal this is a show about someone suspected of being a terrorist. Ooh, spies! Right? But once you get into it, you realize that the protagonist is a deeply flawed individual. I was all ready to root for the well-defined "good guy", but instead, was offered the character of Carrie, who, let's be honest, is a lot to deal with. For me, it went far beyond struggling to find anything in the protagonist to relate to. I downright didn't like her, and just when I thought I couldn't like her any less, she'd make an even worse decision than the last one. Even the show's credits make me feel like I'm having a seizure. It all almost made me give up the show entirely. In fact, Hubs and I had turned it into a pseudo-drinking game of sorts, just to cope with what we understood to be some of TV's most unsettling and frustrating characters.
However, after a major turning point toward the end of season one, as the characters were flushed out and many plot points came full circle, I finally started to get it. And once Carrie gave her monologue on the Beirut rooftop in the first episode of season two, it clicked. I understood the writing, the characters, the entire point of the show:
but no one believed her because she was bipolar?
And what's worse, what if that person started to mistrust herself
because of everyone else's skepticism?
And yet...what if she had been right all along?
How do you stop a wolf in sheep's clothing
when the only person who can see the truth is mentally unstable?
I wish I had understood that Carrie's meltdowns - and the subsequent anxious peeks into her instability - are actually vital elements to the plot, and not just awkward creative choices from the writers and actors. I understand now that this subject matter, not fully acknowledged until nearly the end of season one, gives Homeland a depth I didn't appreciate before. It's something I wish someone had told me prior to starting the show, so now I'm telling you.
We're halfway through season two now, knowing we still have a few zingers in store for us. That said, however, it's still a very gritty show, so we break it up with episodes of Not Going Out, 'cuz that's how we roll.
(FURTHERMORE: why do shows produced by pay networks have an asinine habit of pushing the envelope in the first few episodes just because they can? It's so stupid, and frankly, it pigeonholes their audience. In order to get to the actual content of these shows, viewers are forced to endure several episodes of gratuitious full-frontal nudity and several hundred f-bombs for no real reason. And yet, every pay network show I've seen abandons their shock and awe tactics after the first few episodes always returning to the content, the stuff that matters. By the time you get to the season finale, you realize you haven't seen a single genital in a long while, and it happens that way every. single. time. Geez, perhaps the edgy fluff isn't actually required to produce a quality show. Hmmmm...)