Friday, December 7, 2012

Homeland: a phenomenon or failing trend?

Thanks to a recommendation from my parents, I recently started to watch the Showtime's new series, Homeland. The show is currently in its second season but has already won Emmy's and Golden Globe Awards. Rumor has it that it's also Obama's favorite show, and there's an obvious reason why it's so popular.

It's addicting.

I was immediately hooked. No later than five minutes into the first episode. I think that I, like the rest of America, was intrigued by its sheer intensity and incredible suspense. Crudely, the plot line is one in which an American soldier, Brody, was captured by the head of al-Qaeda. He was tortured and manipulated for eight years before he was rescued and brought back to the United States, where he became a hero. Because of his courage and national fame, he takes seat in federal office and works for the CIA. Unfortunately, the CIA is suffering from leaked information, and there certainly is a double-agent in its midst. 

The show sets itself up to be quite the thriller. There is no doubt about that. Unfortunately, I found that I started losing that "hooked" feeling, even before the first season was over. At first, I had no idea why. The show has action, drama, suspense, a great story line, and good actors. What was the reason that I was losing interest?

It took me a long time to figure it out. But finally, while talking about the show with my dad, I realized what the problem was. He asked me, "who's your favorite character?" I went through the obvious options: the main, female protagonist, the head of the CIA, the Vice President, Brody, Brody's family members... And soon realized that I did not have a favorite character. Every character seemed to have a very annoying quality. I didn't like that the protagonist always failed to listen to her superiors, that the head of the CIA is always brute and aggressive, that the Vice President is pompous, that Brody is too damaged from his time in the Middle East to understand, and that Brody's family doesn't support their husband/father.

There is not a single main character that I like in the show. 

And that is the reason why, although I do admit that I still watch every Sunday night, my enthusiasm for the show has wained. Don't get me wrong--- the show is just as exciting and suspenseful as ever. However, without a main character that I like, it is hard for me to have any person, or storyline, to root for. A lot of the time, since I don't have a character to root for, I don't have a preference as to what happens during an action scene. I don't care if a person escapes or gets captured. I don't care if a person is fired or promoted. I simply don't have a favorite character, or any character for that matter, to root for.

My large realization showed me why it is so important that characters in television shows, books, movies, be relatable. I think that a character should either be liked or hated. I think in order for a viewer to be dedicated to a production, there must be at least one single character that is clearly worth rooting for or against. Without that, the viewer loses interest in what happens, ultimately losing emotion and interest in a show that has potential to be undeniably addicting.

--Eileen Mariano
December 7, 2012

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