Showtime’s drama Homeland, which finished its first season in 2011, has quickly become an award winning, critically acclaimed show. Brilliantly written, the show plays at America’s fear of foreign invaders. The story begins when Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) returns to America after surviving nine years as a prisoner of war. As Brody tries to fit into a drastically different world, with a son he never got to know and a wife that has tried to move on, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) launches an investigation on him. A brilliant yet reckless CIA analyst, Carrie received information that an American POV had been turned and believes that POV to be Brody. Full of twists and turns, the first season was a 9.5 out of 10. It already won 2 Golden Globes but I believe it deserved more for five specific reasons.
#5 The Season Finale
SPIOLER ALERT here (obviously). As the network tends to do, Showtime ended the first season with a frustratingly amazing cliffhanger. After spending an episode manic and the subsequent one depressed, Carrie’s sever bipolar disorder is revealed to the CIA. While she is manic, Brody unveils his true intentions and makes a move. The episode ends with the aftermath of Brody’s failed plan and Carrie undergoing electroshock therapy as an attempt to get her job back and her mental disease under control. Just before the shock is administered, Carrie realizes something that could be crucial to the investigation. The shock is administered and the seas ends, leaving Carrie’s mental state my main concern for the second season.
#4 Mandy Patinkin.
Danes and Lewis have dominated the reviews when it comes to Homeland, so much so that Mandy Patinkin’s performance gets overlooked. Patinkin’s character is, Saul Berenson, a high ranking member of the CIA who is desperately trying to stay positive in a job that is dominated by backstabbers and liars Though they butt heads often, Sol acts as a mentor to Carrie, trusting her and helping her in even the worst of situations. Patinkin gives a great performance as Sol, portraying the man as what I would describe as a sad soul. He always has people’s best interests at heart but never gets the victories he deserves.
#3 High Risk/High Reward
Showtime took a risk by airing a show that capitalized on American paranoia of foreign attackers. This could have sparked two things in viewers: anger and fear. Fear would hopefully keep viewers watching while anger would drive them away. Basing a story line around a patriotic POV that was possibly turned also has the potential to strike anger into the hearts of patriotic Americans. What I thought Showtime did a great job of was subtlety. The show as a whole, in my opinion, really didn’t leave room for viewers to be made at the creators or the writers which takes a lot of skill.
#2 Claire Danes
Winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Drama, though one of the highest honors, is not enough recognition for Danes’ performance. Danes dominates each and every episode as the no nonsense, work obsessed, severely bipolar Carrie Mathison. Any single episode could have earned her the Emmy but I’m positive she won for the two episodes where she went manic and then was depressed. Possibly one of the best performances I’ve seen on television, Danes captures the horrifying personality changes that accompany her character’s disorder with eerie skill. Amidst a number of great performances, Danes shines through and steals the show every time.
#1 The Mystery
I’ve watched a lot of television, I’ve made a lot of predictions and I’ve been right a lot and wrong a lot. Never before however, has a show messed with my predictions as much as Homeland did. At the end of one episode, I was positive that Brody was a traitor but at the end to he next episode, I’ve positive he’s not. The trend continued for most of the season, keeping me constantly analytical of every scene Brody was in. This inability to form a consistent prediction is what makes Homeland truly great television. Watch, analyze it and pay attention to when you’re positive if Brody is a traitor or not.