Showtime's Homeland Is a Post-9/11 Drama, But Don't Expect Jack Bauer
Showtime's political and psychological thriller Homeland asks the question: What's the price of 9/11 to this country?
But according to the executive producer Howard Gordon, the fact that the show is airing just weeks after the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks and months after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces is somewhat dumb luck.
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"The timing is significant, accidental and fortuitous," Gordon said at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews. "It is just a confluence of events. It turns out to be quite fortuitous, as are a number of other things that seem to affect the way this show is going to be viewed. Osama bin Laden was killed when were shooting Episode 2, eerily like the scene of [star Damian Lewis'] rescue."
Lewis plays Marine Sgt. Scott Brody, a prisoner of war who has been held in captivity for years. He returns home a national hero to everyone but Claire Danes' Carrie, a bipolar CIA officer who believes Brody has been turned by his captors and may be out to aid another stateside attack. Who do we trust? Producers promise that those fundamental questions will be answered in the show's first 13-episode season.
"How long can we keep the 'is he or isn't he?' of it alive without feeling like we're jerking [around] the audience?" Gordon said. "We have found a satisfying way to tell the story in a way that this uncertainty is compelling and we hope we answer this in the right amount of time."
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The themes of the show share some DNA with Gordon's background on 24, but fellow executive producer Alex Gansa said the show benefits from being 10 years removed from the terrorist attacks. "24 existed in a real, post-9/11 world and Jack Bauer was the action-hero response to that," Gansa. "This is deeper and more complex. The heart of this show is the psychology America is dealing with in this 10-year period in a post-Osama Bin Laden environment."
There are also shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the story, but Gansa said he and Gordon were not interested in the "magic" of brainwashing. Rather, he wanted Brody to have to weigh the decisions that would go into betraying his native country. "An issue we wanted to explore was even if you are turned, you're not really a terrorist until you commit an act of terrorism," Gansa said. "You have to resolve in your own mind whether or not you'll go through with what you've been asked to do."
Unsurprisingly, given Gordon's 24 background, Lewis will be subjected to lots of brutal torture scenes. But the British actor said he's had plenty of experience. "I have a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old. It's like a morning getting up and dealing with the fact of that," Lewis joked. "I was being peed on only three mornings ago. I'm kind of enjoying this."
V alum Morena Baccarin, who plays Brody's wife, is also finding a different kind of pleasure in her role. "I'm just excited to be playing a human being," she said with a laugh.
Homeland premieres Sunday, Oct. 2 at 10/9c on Showtime.