Random Thoughts About Homeland

I like Homeland but I haven’t fallen in love with it. That’s okay because so many shows I fall in love with tend to disappoint me in the end.

Some people call Homeland a “thinking persons 24.” I cannot diagree with that assessment, but like 24 you have to take the bad with good. Fortunately Homeland has more of the good and less of the cougars in the woods. Actually, I think Cougars in the Woods is on Cinemax tonight.

A lot of people love to bash Brody’s daughter, Dana. I can see why. Sometimes. For the most part she’s okay, and often she is the only one that sees the bigger picture. The problem is not when her character is written as a teen girl, but when she’s written as a teen girl on a TV show.

The storyline where Dana was dating the Vice President’s son, Fiit’bwas a bit contrived. It got all 24 when Finn was involved in a hit and run with a pedestrian who eventually died. To give Dana credit she wanted to do the right thing and go to the police. It was predictable that Vice President Walden wanted to sweep it under the rug since he was running for President. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Of course the main drawing point of the show is fact that Marine Sergeant Nicolas Brody was captured by members of Al Qaeda and eventually turned. It’s an interesting conceit and the writers provide compelling reasons for it.

One of Brody’s captors was Abu Nazir, who was a very charming man. While in captivity Brody became close with Nazir’s son, Issa. Issa became Brody’s surrogate son in a sense. Brody taught him English and about Western culture.

And then one day Issa was killed during a drone attack. Needless to say, Brody was devastated. If Brody hadn’t turned before this event, then this pushed him over the edge.

The man responsible for the drone strike was none other than Vice President Walden, who at the time was director of the CIA. You can see where this is going. I have to admit that there were times when I hoped that Brody didn’t get caught and one of thosee times involved Walden’s death. That’s what a show like Homeland can do to you. It can make you see the world in shades of grey. That is if you don’t already.

If having a series about a Marine turned enemy of the state isn’t enough to hang your hat on then how about this? The other main protagonist is a bipolar CIA agent. You thought I had forgotten about Carrie Mathison, but oh no.

I sometimes wonder if Carrie’s bipolar disorder was one of those, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” moments for the writers. Bipolar disorder cannot be cured, nor can it be retconned. Some of the plots revolve around the fact that Carrie is on and off her meds almost as often as she is on and off Brody. Bazinga.

If you think about it, “bipolar CIA agent” is a pretty good idea for a TV series. Most networks would cast Robin Williams. Or Anne Heche. I might watch that.

The problem with a lot of stories that involve characters with any sort of disorder is that they are often treated as savants. Carrie is supposedly the best at her job, but is she the best because she is bipolar, or would she be as good if she wasn’t?

Carrie does have some really wacky theories, but more often than not she is correct. She seems to love her job, but does she love approval from her boss, Saul Berenson more? They have a mentor/mentee relationship that often borders on a surrogate father/daughter relationship. I guess one of the themes of the series is, “Take love wherever you can get it.”

Also, don’t think that I had forgotten about Carrie’s “Jazz freakouts.” Yeah, it’s a cliche to bring them up, but that has never stopped me before.

Why Jazz? I guess it’s cooler than a “metal meltdown,” but is it funnier than a “Barry Manilow breakdown”?

Jazz does freak me out a bit. Like a lot of people, Jazz sounds like math to me, and I’m no good at math.

How exactly does this fit it with Carrie’s bipolar disorder, or is it just a quirk? Which came first; the Jazz or the freakouts? Is it a coping mechanism? To me, a Jazz freakout sounds like something that would happen to Maynard G. Krebbs whenever someone says the word, “work.”

Update, November 30, 2016:

I haven’t watched Homeland since I the end of season three, I think. The cable company, dropped the analog broadcast of Showtime, and when they did, they cut off my access to the digital version, unless I paid even more money, and they suck. Even if I still had access, I probably wouldn’t watch Homeland.

What is it about Showtime? They operate a premium cable channel like it’s a broadcast network. Yeah, I know it’s owned by CBS, but that’s no excuse. They tend to let programs stay on the air well past their shelf life. Dexter, anyone? How many more years can they squeeze out of Shameless? My fear is that Homeland will end up in the “How is that still a thing?” category, and that’s a shame.

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