Homeland

Sun Oct 7, 2012

I suffer from a very rare form of prosopagnosia in which every time I try to picture Mandy Patinkin, I imagine Steven Seagal instead. This has made watching Homeland a somewhat disconcerting experience. Or at least thinking about it, I should say. Though Claire Danes and Patinkin are well cast, I don’t think Damian Lewis or Morenna Baccarin are altogether plausible in their parts, though Lewis is obviously a fine actor. (At various points, the script attempts to comment on Baccarin’s appearance—the daughter can’t believe these are her parents, etc.)

Emily Nussbaum at the New Yorker wrote that she wished that the economics of television permitted the more aesthetically satisfying conclusion of one-season only series, with the bomb actually going off in the last episode. I agree, though I would have preferred that it went off accidentally, after Brody had decided not to trigger it.

Nussbaum, in the article I linked to above, also mentions that Homeland is an “antidote” for the same production team’s 24. I think “apology” might be a more appropriate term, though I’m not sure that it either is very accurate. The second season has begun with Israel bombing Iranian nuclear installations, and, while things are unsettled as a consequence, they seem much less so than I expect they would in reality. But what Nussbaum was mainly getting at there, I think, is the idea of the series’s apparent moral equivalence. The Vice-President who ordered the drone strike that killed Abu Nazir’s child (and dozens more) is at least as morally compromised according to the show’s moral perspective as anyone else.

24 itself was not immune to using far-right authority figures as enemies, and I always thought that this was an attempt to inoculate itself against its constant presentation of torture-apologetics. I’m not sure what’s equivalent in Homeland. It would also be interesting to speculate about what type of cultural authority is meant to be represented in Carrie Mathison’s love of jazz. An atmospheric decision only? I also love that Patinkin’s a blackmailer and also the show’s central moral authority.