I started watching Homeland


Every Christmas, a very generous reader of PatriotRetort.com makes a donation to the tip jar with the caveat that I spend a portion of the donation on Christmas.  He’s like the guy in “It’s a Wonderful Life” who not only donates to save George Bailey from jail, but hands his pocket watch to little ZuZu as well.

Any old how.

This year, I used a portion of ZuZu’s pocket watch to buy the series Homeland from iTunes.

Have you seen it?

I don’t have cable – let alone premium channels – so I never saw it before.

But since Rush Limbaugh often talked about Homeland on his show, I figured buying it would be a good bet.

So last night around eight, I decided to watch the first episode just to get a feel for it.

Well, that was my plan anyway.

Three-thirty in the morning and eight episodes later, I finally went to bed.

I’ve rarely watched a show that was so compelling that I lost track of the time like that.

Of course this morning when I finally dragged myself out of bed at 10:30, I looked like Courtney Love after a hard night of partying.  But what can you do?

I don’t function well past my bedtime.  At this point, even coffee isn’t doing it for me.

Now, I don’t know if every season of Homeland will be as good as this first one.  But so far, I can see why Rush liked it.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, the plot of the first season is this:

A Marine sniper Sgt. Nicholas Brody (played by Damian Lewis from Band of Brothers) who was missing and presumed dead is found in Iraq after eight years in captivity.  Brody returns home to much fanfare and celebration.

But CIA officer Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) believes something is amiss.  She had received intel, months before Brody was found, that al Qaeda had “turned” a US POW.  And Mathison is convinced that Sgt. Brody is that very man.

The show has a solid cast.  In addition to Lewis and Danes, Morena Baccarin (from one of my favorite shows Firefly) plays Brody’s wife. And Mandy Patinkin (from Criminal Minds) plays Carrie’s CIA mentor Saul Berenson.

Homeland is produced by the same folks that did the show 24. And clearly they’ve learned a thing or two since then because Homeland is better.

But it does have a downside.

Since the show airs on Showtime, they always find a reason to not only include gratuitous nudity, but also to make liberal use of the F-word.

And that’s something I wish TV writers would stop doing.

No, not because I’m a prude.  But because it’s lazy.

When I was working on my screenplay as part of Carnegie Mellon’s MFA Playwriting program, Milan Stitt — the head of the program at the time – once told me, “Using profanity is lazy writing.”

He explained that self-censoring profanity forces the writer to become more creative.  Language is at the very heart of all writing.  And falling back on profanity is selling yourself short.

He even suggested inventing new swear words that are unique to the world you create.

And that’s what I did with my screenplay (which later became my novel Under the Cloud).

Just because Showtime can use profanity doesn’t mean they need to.  And every time I hear the F-word in movies or TV shows, I think of what Milan Stitt told me twenty years ago.

It’s lazy writing.

But so far, the profanity (and the plethora of women’s boobs) are the only problems I have with Homeland.

The story is compelling (obviously — since I intended only to watch one episode and ended up watching eight).  The characters are not flat, 2-dimensional, easily-forgettable cardboard cutouts (which is a common flaw of plot-driven shows). And the plot twists are clever and unexpected.

There’s nothing worse than a suspense thriller where your reaction to a plot twist is, “Yeah, I knew that was going to happen.”  And with Homeland that hasn’t happened to me yet.

Anyhow, I do want to thank John Gaultcsa for this year’s donation/Christmas gift.  It will no doubt give me hours of enjoyment for years to come (since I never watch a series only once).

On a side note: I also want to thank those of you who have sent me Christmas cards with donations for Patriot Retort.  I have all your cards decorating my desk.  And they really are lovely.

I have the most thoughtful readers!

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8 thoughts on “I started watching Homeland

  • December 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Great show at the beginning. Won’t spoil anything for you but I lost interest around season 6.

  • December 22, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Dianny, if you like Mandy Patinkin, check out Dead Like Me sometime (the series). The humor is a little offbeat, but Mandy is fantastic.

  • December 22, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I stopped watching after season 4………. definitely very good at the beginning, but went downhill after several season, and supposedly really went off the rails with TDS is season 6.

  • December 22, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    this is fiction, but
    I have always said – there are dumb Jarheads, but they die!” That I type this, maybe poorly, shows Im not dumb. Very scarred, but not dead.

    while in Grad School – after the war – another grad student mad a remark about “dumb Marines” in class. After class I got close to him and whispered that some Jarheads are offended by his remark! Never heard it again. not sayin he never said it when I was not around.

    this guy proves – again it is fiction – what I say and the CIA is bad, and always has been. Again fiction.

  • December 23, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Oh, you are in for a ride… well you know that. At your current pace, you may catch up in time to start the new season 8 in 2019.

    With great affection/emotion, we have watched every “Homeland” episode, each season, even without the encouragement some time ago from Rush Limbaugh. Apparently there are indications that 2019 season 8 may be the end of the series.

    However, it may be Showtime’s call to make the ultimate decision on the series “Homeland.” And to date, the network has NOT announced that the series will be ending after 2019 season 8.

    The lead actress, Claire Danes, has talked publicly in an article on dealine.com about her character Carrie Mathison, “She’s a lot, this Carrie-freakin’ Mathison character… [She] is under constant duress… it’s a workout… I’ll be ready for a reprieve from that.”

    Personally, we hope the CIA’s Carrie Mathison will continue to shock, amaze, just barely hold it together, and not be held in contempt of congress — for many more episodes.


  • December 23, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Glad you are enjoying Homeland. I viewed it as it aired but I’d imagine that as with 24 before it, binge watching must be exhausting. I found it riveting for the first few years, but then felt they committed what for me was the ultimate sin. It was years ago now, but I remember thinking they pulled that classic Hollywood moralizing SJW crap, humanizing and justifying the terrorist animals and making our side the bad guys, so I stopped watching. I’d be interested in your take on this when you finish the series. They inject their bogus politics into just about everything these days, so I barely watch TV or go to the movies anymore and they even made me give up my (formerly) beloved NFL over it. Thankfully, the internet is full of wonderful, thoughtful and thought-provoking content, so it’s no loss. But I digress. Merry Christmas, Dianny. I wonder if you realize how much your work is appreciated by your many fans. I hope the new year treats you well.

  • December 23, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I watched just 1 season of Homeland, the mediocre American version of the superb Israeli series, PRISONERS OF WAR.

  • December 23, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Great series the first two or three years. Then someone in charge decided it would be a good idea to give the paying public the old bait and switch routine.

    My wife and I both smelled the rat and forced ourselves to soldier on but both regret the hours we’re never getting back watching Progressive propaganda.

    My advice. Don’t waste your precious time watching another minute. Consider yourself lucky and way ahead to have watched a good program show what some of our government agencies could or should be like.

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