Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share their thoughts on the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, Drew Grant discusses why she loved the year’s most popular cable TV drama, Homeland. [Warning: spoilers ahead!]
I fully expected Homeland to be that kind of show I would never watch, for several reasons:
a) I had never seen a single episode of 24, which was created by the same people who adapted Homeland from the Israeli original, Prisoners of War.
b) I wasn’t a huge fan of Claire Danes, who cried constantly—like during the Emmy’s where she won for playing Temple Grandin—and then would be promoting non-drip mascara during the commercial breaks.
c) No one looked that attractive or fun. There was no saucy Sawyer, no cutely-ghetto Jesse Pinkman, not even one measly sardonic vampire to take the edge off what appeared to be (at least from the commercials), a deeply earnest show.
d) Everyone was telling me to watch it, and I am a passive-aggressive pop culture rebel.
So when asked to review Homeland‘s second season, I had to cram the entire first episodes down my brain-gullet in one weekend. And let’s just say: the first few were really hard for me. Claire Danes was constantly crying, and it made me depressed to see how old Mandy Patinkin had gotten since his Princess Bride years.
And that guy Brody? What a downer. His bland stoicism—presented as a protective front against his now-traitorous heart—just struck me as incredibly boring. I imagined Brody pre-war, pre-Abu Nazir, and he just looked like Joe Shmoe. Hell, without the scars, he looked like Joe Shmoe now. He was skinny-ish. He had a weak chin and a wet little mouth that squinched up like a butthole whenever he was supposed to express emotion. The first couple times he tried to have sex with his wife Jessica after being a POW for eight years, it was like watching a really uncomfortable scene from a Todd Solondz movie. Did he just masturbate on her? Gross.
But then came that episode.
You know which one: the cabin episode. The one where Carrie Mathison, the only CIA agent who still suspects that Brody is a terrorist, uses her bipolar brain logic to seduce him (i.e. she lets him fuck her in his car). Then they take a road trip to her family’s summer home—with a nice little detour to brawl with some white supremacists at a bar—and spend the rest of the episode having awesome sex, walking in the woods, and pointing guns at each other.
"Hmm, this show has promise," I thought.
The next night, I dreamt of Brody. I dreamt that we were hiding out in the tree house at the house of my best friend from elementary school (though it looked a lot like my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom, but whatever! Dreams are weird). My friend’s parents were below, and they were trying to make me feel guilty for cheating on my boyfriend with a potential terrorist.
"Oh, so you’d prefer me cheating on my boyfriend with a doctor or shoe salesman?" I shouted down at them. "Not that I am conceding that I am harboring a sexy fugitive up here, mind you, but just hypothetically!"
The my friend’s parents considered it. "Maybe if he was a doctor," they admitted. Brody had to get dressed quickly, and we were giggling as I hid him under my bed. Then, as the parents were ascending the rungs of the tree house ladder, I woke up.
The rest of the day I walked around feeling both guilty and thrilled with my little secret. I understand that it’s completely boring to hear about other people’s dreams, and technically Brody and I did not even have sex (though there was the assumption that we had, and I was just getting to my own storyline late, like someone who forgot to DVR the first half of an episode.)
But you have to understand: I never have sex dreams. Sure, when I was little I used to have this thing with Freddy Krueger appearing and offering his hand-claw in marriage, and sometimes we’d kiss—Freddy Krueger, being able to control dreams, often made himself look like Brad Pitt for me, which was weird because I didn’t think Brad Pitt was that cute when I was eight—but we never got to second base.
When I was thirteen I had a highly disturbing nightmare about having sex with a cartoon Mr. Smithers from The Simpsons. I’m not even sure if that counted, but it was pretty freaky. And from then on…no sex dreams.
Not even sexy dreams, which I always found odd because I spent so much of my day thinking about scenarios where I am engaged in flirty battles of wits with like, um, Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park. You’d think some of that would seep into my subconscious, but no, it was Nick Brody: the least talkative man on television. He’s like everyone’s dad right before the divorce. With Carrie though, he transformed before our eyes into someone much more complex than just a Muslim marine/Congressman intent on killing the vice president.
Look at his nuanced sneer in Season Two, when Carrie finally confronts him in his hotel room. Or the way he likes being manipulated by her crazy ass. Or how he was willing to kill the vice president for her. (Though technically, he was planning to get around to that sooner or later. Still, it was much more romantic in a hostage situation). Unlike today’s modern anti-heroes like Don Draper, Walter White, Dexter, and yes, even Rick Grimes, Nick Brody has revealed that behind blue eyes there lies only love. He’s replacing DiCaprio as the tragic Romeo to Danes’s perpetual Juliet.
The second time I dreamt about Nick Brody, we had sex. SCORE! It was like losing my R.E.M. virginity!
So thank you, Nick Brody, for giving that to me. Also by extension, a big thanks to you, Damian Lewis, for playing him, though I can’t watch you in interviews because I find your British accent and light-hearted sense of humor very disconcerting.
Follow Drew Grant on Twitter.