Homeland: Smart New Show, Same Old Stupid

‘Homeland’ has been critically praised for its intelligence, but its reliance on weary stereotypes often makes it feel like ‘24’ in drag.

Writing in The Guardian, Rebecca Nicholson has praised ‘Homeland’, a new Showtime TV series, as “a grownup thriller” that “feels like it’s addressing the moment.” The very fact, however, that the series presents a world preoccupied with the War on Terror and still fixated on the possibility of a surprise terrorist attack on U.S. soil undermines fatally the argument that it addresses the moment. In the current reality, our fears centre on the concrete effects of economic stagnation and the ongoing failures of the markets, not on the remote possibilities of terrorist infiltration. The vocabulary of dread has shifted from sleeper cells and jihad to unsecured bondholders, stagflation and quantitative easing. In terms of ideas that trouble the collective psyche, waterboarding has been displaced by the double dip. Moreover, it is eight years since the first broadcast of Adam Curtis’s ‘The Power of Nightmares’ brilliantly uncovered the War on Terror and the great threat of al Qaeda as “a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media.” Homeland strives to perpetuate that increasingly shaky illusion, and allies it to other older, equally suspect ones.

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