December 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Shows: Why Homeland Must Become 24 To Survive


The mighty Emmy venerated "Homeland" had a really disappointing season because it has no idea of what kind of show it is. All the big shows on TV right now are extremely confident in what they're doing. "Walking Dead" is a rip-roaring horror adventure. "Boardwalk Empire" is a bloody historical drama. "Mad Men" & "Breaking Bad" are studies in masculinity & American identity. Shit, even "Game of Thrones" is kind of a fantasy parable of power and family. But "Homeland" like it's two main characters is in the middle of a massive identity crisis. It has no idea if it wants to be a smart dramatic dissection of the war on terrorism or if it wants to crackle and pop with "24" style counter-terrorism action and twists. Right now it's attempting to be both and it's coming apart at the seams like Carrie on wine,jazz,and pills bender.

I covered the ways that the show tries to make it "real world" in my last takedown of the show. I don't need to get into it again, but I feel bad I neglected to mention how the creators and their relentless drive for realism managed to anger the real life nations of Israel & Lebanon. Last night's attack from beyond the grave was further evidence of how far away the show has gotten from the real world.

I found the explosion last night, while certainly unexpected, to be completely ridiculous and reeking of the stench of a group of writers who had no idea what they were doing the whole season. The only way that an attack of that magnitude would be possible would be with extensive help on the inside, and as we all know, "Homeland" has been playing coy with it's mole-hunt for the past two seasons. It's obvious they have no idea who it is, it is not a "leak," but rather a "well" of story devices that writers can use to kind of explain necessary plot occurrences. In the "real world" drama-politics of the show, you really believe that at the VICE PRESIDENT'S FUNERAL, somebody could park a car on a sidewalk in front of a giant glass room full of important people and that no one would notice? Even by the shows already established rules, it was preposterous. Sure you might say it's only a TV show and I'm being nit-picky, but, again this is a show that links to the real world terrorism in it's opening credits and plot-lines so it doesn't get a free-pass. And you know what else it is? It is "24" shit, through and through.

You see, no matter how hard it tries, "Homeland" will never escape from the legacy of "24." It doesn't matter how many times Saul says the Hebrew prayer for the dead over a stunning sea of dead bodies or each well-written Abu-Nazir monologue about the nature of US Imperialism, as they say on that other show, "resistance is futile." With all plausibility out of the window now, the only way to save the show is to go full throttle with the "24" level madness. I'm all for it. I miss "24" every ticking second of each day. I hunger for the movie. And I think most people to do. When people talk about "Homeland," they talk about the crazy VP bunker scene last season, the brazen terrorist attack at the tailor's office, or the countless surveillance missions. No one says (at least anymore) says "Gosh I love Homeland for it's murky dissection of middle Eastern politics." I'd rather have a completely implausible well-acted espionage thriller, than a bumbling show failing to engage on any level. After all, we all need to pick a side sometime.

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