When only four percent of scripted TV shows feature LGBT characters, what’s a gay girl to do? Why, strap on your gay goggles and watch TV along with us, of course! Our handy appraisal scale is better than any old letter grade. Other sites A+. We say, “What about our lezzy-lady feelings?”
Showtime brought Claire Danes back to our televisions and we are grateful. But Homeland is a show you won’t watch just for Danes — at least not after the first episode. Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a rule-breaking CIA agent, often at odds with her boss. Unknown to the agency, she has mental problems and takes antipsychotics. In her last mission gone awry, Carrie heard that an American prisoner had been “turned,” but thought no POWs were alive and didn’t report the intelligence. Now, however, Sgt. Nick Brody (Damien Lewis) has been found in an Afghan prison after eight years of torture. The U.S. thinks he’s a hero, but Carrie thinks he’s The One Who Turned.
Angela Chase has grown up to be a knockout. Danes has always been fun to watch and this role shows off her talents well. The seductive side of Carrie isn’t always appealing, since she seems to deal with stress by picking up men. But she does wear a power suit quite nicely.
The more alluring role belongs to Morena Baccarin as Sgt. Brody’s wife Jessica. She is voluptuous and not ashamed to let it show. Seeing her in the red dress she wears to greet her husband for the first time in eight years is worth the entire hour. No, wait. Seeing her in the negligee she wears that night is even better.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS!
Homeland is billed “a political thriller,” so we know we shouldn’t trust our feelings. But we do, Blanche; we do trust our feelings. This show is terrific at playing with our emotions — we believe Carrie, then we think she’s gone off the rails. We trust Brody, then we fear him. We feel the pain of Brody’s family, then we feel their sense that they might have been happier without him. I think a key to enjoying this series is to let yourself feel all of the contrasting feelings and just see where they take you. My hunch is that the payoff will be worth it.
THE LYING GAME
Sometimes flashbacks confuse me to the point that I don’t understand the present. But here they are used masterfully. For every lie Brody tells, he flashes to what actually happened. He did interact with Al Qaeda leader Abu Nazir. He did witness his co-captor’s torture — in fact, he helped beat him to death. He’s on guard every second. Is he lying to protect his friends and family or is he part of a conspiracy?
Carrie has her own reasons for lying. The agency won’t support her investigation of Brody, so she hires her own illegal surveillance team and obsessively watches his every move. She uses her one supporter in the CIA, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) to get even more access. She puts her meds in an aspirin bottle to hide her illness. She wears a wedding ring when she goes out to find a sex partner in order to avoid men looking for relationships. Carrie could be a paranoid schizophrenic sex addict — or a smart, intuitive, edgy investigator.
Homeland is my favorite new show of the season so far. I can’t say enough about the acting — every possibility is in the characters’ faces and body language without them saying a word. And somehow, we believe every contradicting option at the same time. Carrie’s intensity is also manic and obsessive. Nick’s determination is as menacing as it is noble. Jess’s reception of her husband is full of both love and fear. Even the kids are terrific in their simultaneous joy and reserve.
Give Homeland three episodes and you will find it hard to wait for more. Just don’t believe everything you read on the internet in the meantime. You can watch the first episode free at Showtime’s website.
Did you watch the Homeland premiere? What did you think?