The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Homeland: A new breed of drama

Lately, I’m feeling a little like Paul Revere. I feel a little bit like Moses. I’m carrying a message. I’m spreading the good word. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen about my latest obsession with a ferocity that’s bordering on insanity.

I love getting into new television shows. They’re my personal addiction. I become engrossed in the characters’ lives, their struggles, their relationships and before I know it, I’ve wasted an entire Saturday (when there’s no college football).

Netflix hasn’t helped this illness. I’ve watched the entire series of some of the best shows I’ve seen like “Friday Night Lights” and “LOST” in just a matter of weeks. The problem, though, is that I’ve also spent hours upon hours watching series that really aren’t that good. I’ve seen every episode of the CW sci-fi show “Supernatural” and I now tune into NBC’s “Parenthood” every week. What kind of a 23-year-old watches Parenthood, right? Now you know the severity of my condition. Thanks Netflix.

That means that I know the difference between a good show and a bad show. I’ve been around the block. I’ve seen some things, man. So when I tell you that my newest show is redefining the way I look at a series, you better believe it. That’s why if I could, I’d put on one of those three-pronged hats, grab the nearest lantern and ride down Water Street Paul Revere style. That’s not really practical though, so instead, I’ll just write about it here.

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Showtime’s new series “Homeland,” now midway through its second season, is turning heads. I decided to give the show a shot after it won Emmys for best drama, best lead actor and best lead actress. That’s a pretty impressive trifecta.

The show stars Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers) as Sergeant Nicholas Brody, half of a marine sniper unit who is rescued from the Middle East after spending the last eight years as a prisoner of war. Claire Danes plays CIA operative Carrie Mathison who finds some of Brody’s self-told accounts of his capture to be full of holes. The series follows Mathison on her quest to prove that Brody is the traitor she believes him to be as she prevents an impending attack on the United States. Whether her wild theories are valid, we can’t be sure.

The story is great. Lewis and Danes have some serious acting chops, which the writers aren’t afraid to flex. What makes “Homeland” such an incredible show, though, is its design. It took the mold left behind by past dramas, crumpled it up and threw it away.

In most dramas, the story slowly builds while the writers develop the characters. Then, inevitably, at the season’s midpoint and ending, major events occur that either change the story or reveal some piece of missing information. I get it. It’s a winning formula. But “Homeland” does things a bit differently.

When I started watching the series, I was expecting the kind of slow burning storyline I was so accustomed to. “Homeland” doesn’t wait to bring the brain-busting plot twists though. It absolutely dives right into them. The kind of huge, story turning developments that you would expect to take place in the season finale, can be found throughout the season at points you would never expect. It doesn’t wait for the sake of waiting. It doesn’t stall the story or stretch it to last until the season ends. Instead, it gains more and more speed and wildly hurtles towards its end.

The result of this approach is that as a viewer, you’re knocked off balance. We’ve been programmed to expect these season-long stories to advance in a certain way. When we realize that’s not going to happen, suddenly everything becomes pressing. That’s an interesting feeling.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a television show. “Homeland” is a truly remarkable story told in a way that capitalizes on its very nature. So I’m spreading the word. Call me Paul Revere, call me Moses. Heck, you can call me Nancy as long as you watch the show. You won’t regret it.

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Homeland: A new breed of drama