If you feel like you have to be part of the inevitable conversations, get a few episodes of My So Called Life under your belt (the entire series is available with XFINITY Streampix). Then you can talk about how Clare Danes was so brilliant as Angela Chase, and, as an added bonus, you can get a load of an unbearably hot Jared Leto playing a puka-wearing Jordan Catalano. (The entire series is available on Xfinity On Demand.)
Clare was so believable as a high school malcontent in My So Called Life that, ironically, it was one of the reasons I wasn’t interested in Homeland. In Homeland, she’s Carrie Mattheson, an unstable CIA agent, and, in my mind, Clare Danes was NOT a badass government operative. She was Angela Chase and/or that girl who was on Law & Order that one time. I had a similar problem with Mandy Patinkin, who plays a high-ranking official — I couldn’t separate him from the geeky doctor he played on Chicago Hope, or, alternatively, that guy who was on Law & Order that one time. As for Damien Lewis, Homeland’s terrorist/hero, all I have to say is that he looks like my ex-husband, and that, in itself, was enough of a reason to avoid Homeland entirely.
It was the 2012 Emmys that landed me on the Homeland bandwagon. It won for Best Series, and both Clare Danes and Damien Lewis scored Best Actor wins. That was when I decided it was time to check it out.
There are 22 episodes of Homeland, and Xfinity On Demand’s got them all. (Forgive me for sounding like an Xfinity propagandist, but the fact is that I wouldn’t watch anything at all without it.)
Homeland messes with its audience from the start. It opens with Danes’ CIA agent Carrie Mattheson in Iraq as she tries to wrangle a stay on the execution of a terrorist who blew up 129 innocent civilians in an open-air marketplace. Carrie’s playing a long game – the phrase she uses to describe uber villain Abu Nazir’s strategy – and she believes that the dead-guy-to-be has information that will prevent a full blown attack on America. (She fails in her mission to save him, but she gets a serious chunk of intel out of him before he’s put to death.)
Homeland is filled with those kinds of ironies and ignoble acts. Carrie’s fight for the life of the Iraqi terrorist becomes almost negligible once the series picks up steam; every character’s motivation is suspect.
That’s all I’m going to say about the plot. Everything that happens in each episode is the foundation for the next, and writing about the story itself would be the worst kind of spoiler. The only way to understand exactly how genius Homeland is to watch it episode-by-episode. That’s what I did.
It’s not a spoiler to say that the acting is impeccable or that the plot is loaded with moral dilemmas and edge-of-your seat twists. It’s genre-busting in that not everyone is a spy or a politician — wives and children are central to the story — and the actions of the US government are far from saintly. Damien Lewis’ Nick Brody is intricately duplicitous, and while Carrie is ferocious, she’s also mentally ill.
It only took me a couple of weeks to get up to speed on Homeland, and, in retrospect, I wish I’d drawn it out. I don’t want Homeland to be over, and if I hadn’t binged on it, it wouldn’t be. On Demand viewing requires patience and restraint, and I lack both.
Then again, that might not be such a bad thing.