Monday, October 21, 2013
HOMELAND faces the most dangerous plot in the series’ history – an insidious subversive plot more squirm-inducing than any of the Brody torture scenes, more chilling than national terrorist threats, suicide bombers, and unspeakable acts of senseless violence.
I’m referring of course to the Dana storyline in season three.
First let me say I do not blame Morgan Saylor, the young actress who portrays Nicholas Brody’s bratty teenage daughter, Dana. She got hired to play a role, she’s playing it with conviction and believability. Cash your checks, Morgan. You've earned the money.
But the character of Dana is so relentlessly insufferable that every time she comes on the screen I shout, “Oh no!” Fortunately for Morgan there’s Lena Dunham and Flo from Progressive Insurance to take some of the hate heat off.
The bigger problem of course is that HOMELAND has really plummeted in quality. Once the most compelling show on the air, season three so far has been meandering, repetitious, and dull. The shocking twists aren't shocking. We see Carrie going crazy for the fifth time, and as much as I adore Claire Danes, they’ve now got her playing one notch below Jerry Lewis in CINDERFELLA. And Brody is all over the map (literally). The episode where he was holed up in a half-constructed apartment high rise in Venezuela was PAPILLON meets HOLLYWOOD SQUARES.
And then there’s Dana. We’re supposed to have empathy for her because her father is perceived of as a monster, but sorry, we don’t. There’s a great Jewish expression I can only hope to spell correctly – Dana is farbissina, which roughly means she’s a major sourpuss.
The Brody home life has never been particularly interesting. For two years luscious Morena Baccarin’s sole function as his wife was to say, “Where you going, Brody?” “Talk to me, Brody.” and finally: “Where you been, Brody?” His return from captivity was a tough adjustment for the family. We get it. Dad’s been turned. What family doesn’t have its quirks? But especially now that Brody is harder to find than Matt Lauer, mom and the kinder are not integral to anything in the show. And every time Dana smirks, scowls, or sleeps with one of the Menendez brothers, I dive for the remote.
HOMELAND is a product of the 24 writers and you can see the parallels. The worst character on 24 was Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim, played by Elisha Cuthbert. She got kidnapped so many times she started bringing her own rope. The Kim hate was loud and long, but that didn’t stop the producers from stuffing her in a car trunk season after season.
In HOMELAND’s case you could argue that even if the producers recognize themselves that the Dana subplot is dramatic Anthrax, it’s too late to do anything about it. All thirteen episodes are probably in the can. But America has hated Dana for two previous seasons already. The producers can’t be surprised. If so, it’s like they were crushed by a runaway glacier. Their intelligence information is worse than the CIA's.
Last year we saw THE GOOD WIFE make a huge miscalculation by introducing a character the public quickly loathed. So the producers dumped him, had to scramble, and salvage what they could. They listened to their audience and reacted accordingly. (And by the way, this year’s shows are spectacular – week after week.) HOMELAND never learns. I bet next year Dana will be back with an eating disorder.
I hope HOMELAND can right the ship. It’s lost its focus, it’s lost it’s freshness – the only thing it’s kept is its farbisinna’s.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM