Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why We Need Homeland

Last night, as tonight, in an effort to tune out the awful images and heartbreaking story coming out of Boston, I snuggled up to HOBB on our dog-chewed black leather couch and lost myself in the final episodes of Season 1 of Homeland.

As I posted yesterday on Facebook, I was deeply unsettled to see the depiction of a suicide bomber's vest -- loaded with ball bearings to inflict maximum damage on the human body -- on the penultimate episode of the season.

The architecture of the bomb on Homeland was just too eerily similar to what had happened that day in Boston and, for several instants, the escapism factor of this drama was compromised by its too-immediate imitation of life.

Indeed, as I watched the season finale tonight, I had to ask myself just why Homeland, which is a nail-bitingly suspenseful show about terror, betrayal and ambiguity, is such a huge hit in post 9/11 America.

Homeland presents the very stuff of our waking nightmares, the questions we have, our suspicions and (for many of us) barely-articulated critiques of our government's activities, actions and policies during the administrations of George W. Bush.

Homeland shows the ugly and the vulnerable in our heroes and ordinary citizens; it allows us to smoosh the black and white hues of absolutist American ideals so as to create a palate of innumerable shades of grey.

It makes me proud and disturbed about my country.

But I know the answer even as I ask the question because Homeland functions as all art does, permitting us to interpret reality, providing us with a portal for filtering experience. Homeland curates the mess of contemporary life. It manages our fear, or focuses it on Carrie and Brody and Saul. It permits us to create galleries of grey awareness.

Homeland is as part of the zeitgeist as Girls, another compelling and disturbing (if also funny) show whose first season I recently completed watching.

What both have in common -- aside from sharp writing and plot development -- is their message to Americans:

You are being screwed in ways you cannot even begin to understand.

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