Haunted by “Homeland”

 

We’ve become addicted to Homeland, Showtime’s award-winning thriller series about Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody’s return to the US after being held captive in Afghanistan for 8 years. Subjected to torture and isolation, he’s having trouble reconnecting with his wife and two children.  CIA agent Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, is convinced he’s working as a terrorist and stops at nothing to find out.  Mandy Patinkin plays her mentor, a paternal figure struggling to remain relevant as younger agents enter the field. about_1024x512

It’s cat and mouse, CIA, FBI, politics, military, terrorism, and romance all packed into 50 -minute segments, each ending with a cliff-hanger.

Not premium cable subscribers, we’re watching the series via On Demand and have four more episodes left of Season Two.

We’re staying up later than we have in years, compelled to watch another episode.    And then another.

My knitting has suffered. I began a cowl with a seashell pattern and have ripped it several times. Usually I can knit the more complicated projects while watching television. Instead, I’ve switched to my “easy” car-project— the back of a pullover – that doesn’t require any concentration.

But then I can’t fall asleep. I’m wired awake, replaying the scenes, predicting what will happen next. And what’s worse—we’re talking about it as if it’s real. Discussing the characters’ motivations and behaviors, debating the plot’s probability, dissecting scenes for clarity.

What’s disturbing is how real it is.  Beginning after the terrorist attack September 11, 2001, the story involves the search for al-Qaeda, how clues lead to actions, how seconds can turn plans into disasters. It’s history I remember vividly—and don’t want repeated.

It’s not like the television I grew up watching.  As a child, I loved My Three Sons and Lassie.  Then The Man from Uncle  took over my imagination, and I pretended to be a Cold War spy with a few friends. We staged missions in the woods behind our house and had secret identities.   As a teenager, I watched Mary Tyler Moore, perhaps inspiring my own decision to be a journalist.  As adults, we’ve watched House, and a bit of Boardwalk Empire, and I can’t wait for the third season of Downton Abbey.

But none are as gripping as Homeland.

I won’t spoil the story by revealing too much. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it—if you don’t mind dropping stitches or losing sleep.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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31 Responses to Haunted by “Homeland”

  1. Nancy C-J says:

    Just took home season 1 from the library for the holiday week. Not sure if I am going to get through it all (I hate scenes of violence and torture) but Rich is enthralled and I guess I will have to watch along.

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  2. beachbarb says:

    One of the finest shows ever on tv. We have been hooked from the start. It is so compelling and intense that we usually DVR to watch it earlier another evening because if I watch it at 10, I can’t let it go to fall asleep.

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  3. I’m way too anxious after watching. But it’s compelling.

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  4. I have not gotten the fever yet. We are watching the first season of Downton Abbey. I missed a few. I must admit I am hooked on a few other shows. I favored the SyFy Channel’s “Haven” based on a Steven King story. I also like a CBS’s “Person of Interest” but maybe I try it out.

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  5. I’ve been meaning to join this crowd and now I will… but I will learn from you oh wise one, and not watch at night, or take up knitting! Very good review!

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  6. Patti Winker says:

    I fell in love with Mandy Patinkin when he spoke those immortal lines: “Hello. My name Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” 😉 I fell in love with him again when I watched his interview on CBS Sunday Morning. {{sigh}} I haven’t started watching Homeland yet… but I just may.

    Funny you should mention The Man From U.N.C.L.E. What a memory! I, too, used to play out scenarios from that show with my friends. We wore those little triangle badges and had a secret rendezvous spy headquarters place… the whole thing. I had a little crush on Illya Kuryakin. I even ‘played’ him in our group. Good times, good times.

    So, yes, I’ve always had a thing for spy v spy kind of intrigue stuff. Mission Impossible (the TV show not the movie) and all that. I can see where the reality of Homeland could be a bit disturbing. Maybe I’ll wait and get the whole series at once so I can dedicate a weekend to it sometime. Thanks for the review.

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  7. Leah says:

    I need to start Homeland. Everyone says it’s the best show on TV. My dad is obsessed with it.

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  8. Patti Winkler’s comments cracked me up. I spent a great deal of my childhood talking into pens. “Open Channel D…” And we had two turtles named Ilya and Napoleon! I might need to check this series out. I have never heard of it before–we don’t get cable–but it’s always good to find something engaging enough to make getting onto the exercise machine something to look forward to, as that is when I am inclined to watch. Thanks so much for the recommendation. Best wishes for the New Year.

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  9. This is so timely. I watched all of these shows. David McCallum is on one of my favorite shows”NCIS.” I love NCIS. I did watch “Homeland” but I could not get hooked. I will try again but do not know if I have room for another show. “Warehose 13” and “Alphas” are favorites of mine from SyFy. I think I like my spying sprinkled with a little less reality. Well, now, you can watch the shows online and you do not need cable. Naomi, you could watch one without investing in cable.

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    • We’re really not big tv watchers. I like to spend about 15 minutes to unwind- doing some knitting- but usually can’t find anything on. And the tv is too complicated — about 4 remotes– to figure out how to use it. We don’t know how to tape, stream, etc. Pathetic!

      On Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM, cyclingrandma

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  10. Sorry, I meant “Warehouse 13”

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  11. nancy Polster says:

    We do not have Showtime but at the knit shop many customers including my boss talk every Monday about the Homeland episode from the night before. I feel like an outside as they get very animated and I have no idea about the show. I am tempted to get Showtime so that I can be included in the most talked about show. It has gotten great reviews and it up for all sorts of awards. I guess if you’re going to drop knitting stitches that is the show to do it with.

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  12. tchistorygal says:

    Hi LIsa, I haven’t heard of it, but our TV seems to stay tuned to DIY or HGTV or poker, and you might guess that I’m not the one watching it. I’ll have to check it out! My memories take me to the same shows you watched, but that was what was on. There wasn’t so much variety!!! BTW I don’t know if you saw it, but I posted a review of your book http://wp.me/p2jC53-123. I really enjoyed it. I think it has a lot of potential in the schools for lots of reasons. I’m going to promote it to my social studies teachers. Thanks for sending it. I’ll also post the review on Amazon. Have a great holiday. Talk to you soon. 🙂 Marsha

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  13. Louise G. says:

    I’m afraid to start watching it! I know I’ll get hooked and then I’ll not only start dropping stitches, I’ll start dropping balls all over as I let go of doing the things that need doing and fall into the habit of watching what’s going on in Homeland and not in my home! 🙂

    Hope you had a fabulous Christmas. Happy New Year!

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  14. beachbarb says:

    Moving on from the sublime to the wonderfully ridiculous, and at risk of being subjected to rolled eyes and groans, my other TV addiction, 180 degrees from Homeland, is The Big Bang Theory. First my adult children and then my teenage grandchildren tried to get us to watch it – but I refused. Sounded stupid. Finally in desperation one night I watched it and I’ve been hooked ever since. A terrific emmy-award winning ensemble cast, well written, filled with SAT words, and very, very funny.

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  15. askmieke says:

    I’m watching series 1 now… on episode 11. I’m not haunted by it, but I do find it disconcerting. If 1/10th of this is based in reality… then we are losing the war on terror, with bad foreign policy, corrupt politicians, an inept and politically motivated state department and intelligence community red tape and lack of focus. It’s crazy that only the enemy realizes this is a war, while we are more concerned about not offending bad people.

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  16. Rob Pollak says:

    What’d you think of the last 4 episodes? I thought it fell off a cliff at the end and all the believability went out the window. But if I get started on that now, I’ll totally hijack your blog and write 1500 words that I should save for a worthwhile topic.

    Also holding back in case you haven’t finished yet.

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    • Thanks- no saw the whole thing- so glad it’s done! The bombing isn’t so unbelievable but his escaping to Canada is. Wonder it I’ll watch season 3. Already finding season 3 of Downton Abbey to be very dull. Enough of those people!

      On Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 8:22 AM, cyclingrandma

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      • Rob Pollak says:

        I am struggling to get back into DA. Watched the first two seasons, but thought they overdid the bates-anna drama.

        As for homeland, here are some things I found annoying:
        1) Brody using a front facing camera on a blackberry
        2) Carrie not getting shot or knifed immediately when she walked into the dark room
        3) Abu Nazir being able to go undetected by 50 FBI agents but then Carrie walks in and is like “hey, why don’t you check behind this fake wall” and then he’s there.
        4) Someone getting a truck full of TNT that close to the CIA building a few days after a major thwarted terrorist attack
        5) That Brody’s phone just stopped being tapped at some point
        6) Carrie actually liking Brody

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      • Hey, it’s TV! They have to pack a lot into an hour and a season! Seems to work for them. Reality isn’t drama— I keep hearing that in my playwriting class. Real life is boring. Bates/Anna– yes overdone but I can’t stand Mary at this point and there’s no chemistry between her and Matthew.

        On Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 8:57 AM, cyclingrandma

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