If you follow my Twitter feed or have even talked to me in the last two weeks, you already know about my Homeland obsession. Homeland—this most brilliant of a television show that it seems almost an injustice to call it just a television show; it’s a work of art, to be sure—has cast me under its spell.
I figured it was worth checking out after it won all those Emmys (including but not limited to Best Drama, Best Actress for Claire Danes aka my new girl crush, and Best Actor for Damian Lewis). Plus I get Showtime on Demand and after a hellish week of tests and projects I was left with a week nearly entirely free. So it was a perfect storm for me to catch up on the show just as the second season was getting underway.
I admit a part of me just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Plus Homeland is as classy as TV can get really. Watching shows like Mad Men and Homeland allows me to rationalize by guilty pleasure viewing of I-can’t-explain-why-I-find-this-so-captivating entertainment like Real Housewives of Anywhere reunions and anything with a Kardashian sister.
But what I got was a show so smart, so surprising, so intensely good that it’s all nearly all I’ve been thinking about lately. In the span of three days I watched all of the series’ (then) 14 episodes.
The story, if you’re unaware, is about a Marine sergeant (played by Lewis) named Nicholas Brody who was taken prisoner in Iraq for 8 years. He is eventually rescued and returns to America, but CIA agent Carrie Mathison suspects he’s actually been turned and is involved in a terrorist plot on American soil. Oh, and also Carrie is bipolar so she’s a somewhat unreliable narrator. But to sum up the show in just a few short sentences would be to entirely gloss over all of its subtleties and nuances that the writing and tremendous acting by the cast illuminate.
Claire Danes is simply mesmerizing in this role. She’s so badass, so I-can’t-believe-she-just-went-there, so utterly awesome. And she portrays Carrie’s mental illness with such depth and layers, it’s captivating to watch. In an interview, co-creator and showrunner Alex Gansa described Claire’s performance: “I got a letter from somebody who said she’s bipolar herself, and she said Claire’s performance was so real to her that she worries for Claire’s sanity.” That sums it up pretty perfectly. She just owns this role, and it’s so fun to wach. Plus, this girl has crazy eyes and an awesome cry-face.
Claire Danes' rather crazy eyes
But you can’t ignore the amazing work of the rest of the cast, as well as the team of writers. Their persistence to just “go there,” to constantly subvert your expectations and realize, Oh this is so much better than what I was expecting, is probably the show’s greatest asset. So often with television you think you know what’s coming, what could be, but Homeland is constantly one step ahead. It’s an awesome ride, to be sure.
Plus, don’t we all need a reason to look forward to Sunday nights?
So please, if you’re not watching this show, get thee to a television ASAP. You can thank me later.
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