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Last year's International Emmy winner might not exist without Homeland
I still remember the conflicting nervousness and exuberance I felt while watching Homeland's Season 1 episode "The Weekend," when CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and domestic terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) did their dance that weaved between being prey and predator and star-crossed lovers. It was one of the series' highlight moments, and propelled Homeland to one of the most talked about shows of the Peak TV era.
Of course, Brody didn't last much longer on the series, but Carrie — as well as Mandy Patinkin's Saul Berenson — lasted for eight whole seasons of Homeland, which ended in April 2020. There hasn't really been a show like Homeland since then, but its popularity spurred a resurgence in prestige espionage and government intelligence dramas. If you long for more shows like Homeland, check out our list of what to watch next.
If the seasons of Homeland that saw Carrie doing spy things overseas were your favorites, then Apple TV+'s Tehran should be on your dossier in big, bold letters. The Israeli series, which won the 2021 International Emmy award best drama, follows a female Mossad agent named Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan) as she works undercover in Iran's capital to disable a nuclear reactor (complicating things is the fact that she was born in Iran). Season 2 got a boost in star power when Glenn Close joined the cast as a British agent. -Tim Surette
Norwegian series The Girl From Oslo is a political thriller featuring a twisty, sort-of-soapy story about love and terrorism in the Middle East that should make Homeland fans feel right at home. Three tourists in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula get captured by ISIS fighters and held for ransom. The mother of one of the hostages is a diplomat, and she travels to the Middle East to try to get her daughter back, with the help of her old friend, an Israeli intelligence minister who has a connection to the daughter he isn't aware of yet, if you catch my drift. If you love Homeland, say ja to this. -Liam Mathews
Homeland's Israeli roots -- it's an adaptation of the next show on the list -- lend a lot to its success, so to get that feeling of conflict, espionage, and drama, your next watch should be the international hit Fauda. The Israeli series follows an Israeli soldier named Doron (Lior Raz), who returns to action when he learns a Hamas terrorist who was believed to be killed is actually still alive and planning more attacks. Doron goes undercover to infiltrate the terrorist's group, which puts those close to him in danger, but like Carrie, Doron has a hard time stopping his mission until it's seen through. Fauda is credited by some with an evenhanded take on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, with rare humanization of the Palestinian side that only bolsters the drama.
Thanks to natural charisma and a few extra hours put in the gym, it takes John Krasinski only a few minutes to stop making a frumpy face into the camera, shed his Jim Halpert image, and become America's newest version of the literary action hero Jack Ryan. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan gives us the Jack Ryan origin story, showing the CIA agent in his early days as a desk jockey before he shot up the ranks to become one of the agency's greatest assets. Like Homeland, Jack Ryan spent tons of cash to get on-location shots around the globe, making it TV's best-looking spy thriller (thanks, Jeff Bezos!) with a crew that added in some impressive action sequences. It's not quite the character study that Homeland is -- Jack's a little bland, especially in Season 1 -- but it's a solid interpretation of the books that made Clancy commonplace on the bedside tables of dads everywhere.
If you say you love spy shows but also say "I haven't seen The Americans yet" then turn around and keep walking, pal. FX's drama isn't just one of the best spy shows ever made, it's one of the best TV shows ever made, period. Stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell give career-best performances as a pair of Russian spies masquerading not only as plain Americans in the 1980s, but — with their two American-born children who don't know their parents are spies — also as a regular American family. You'll salivate over the low-tech spy games of the era and the complex political plotting, but the real drama of The Americans is within the family unit and their pesky CIA agent neighbor who suspects something might be up. You've been putting this off for too long, binge it now and thank me when you hear the first Fleetwood Mac song.
Homeland's early seasons were beloved because of the complicated love story between Carrie and Brody. She was a CIA agent, he was a prisoner of war and national hero who was secretly turned by his captors to spy on America. Love and spyjinx cross paths again in London Spy, a BBC drama starring Ben Whishaw as a man who discovers his boyfriend was a spy after he's found dead. It's a tight drama mixing romance and thrills, with less romance (he's dead!) and more thrills. And at five episodes, it can be finished in an afternoon.
If you watched Homeland for its thrilling cat-and-mouse sequences of intelligence and counter-intelligence followed by bone-shaking explosions and mayhem, then do check out Bodyguard. The extremely intense six-episode quickie from the BBC will take a few years off your life, but it's worth it as creator Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty) throws the whole kitchen sink at viewers in detailing a military vet's move to become the bodyguard of a controversial British politician. Like Homeland, there's some forbidden love and possible mental issues involved, but the series' trademark is its ability to pin its audience to the couch as bombs threaten to explode and shootouts spray glass everywhere. Plus, it has a fantastic performance from Richard Madden (Game of Thrones' Robb Stark) as the titular bodyguard who says "ma'am" in the most adorable way (it sounds like he's calling out to his mommy).
Before Carrie Mathison was frantically scrambling around and swearing at federal ineptitude and terrorist threats, there was a man named Jack Bauer doing the same thing (who curses better, Carrie and her F-bombs, or Jack and his "DAMMIT"?). Debuting in Nov. 2001, 24 was TV's first big post-9/11 series, starring Kiefer Sutherland as the new action hero who hunted terrorists by any means necessary. The hit also pushed the limits of broadcast television, prompting debates about torture as the same debate raged in the real world. 24 would also push the limits of what viewers were willing to sit through in later seasons, featuring laughable storylines involving mountain lions and amnesia, but the early seasons still contain some of the best thrills ever seen on network television, aided by the series' unique device of depicting events in "real-time," even if it meant no one ever went to the bathroom or that it tried to make us believe you could drive across Los Angeles in 15 minutes.
One of France's most lauded television programs ever, The Bureau will, how you say, scratch that spy itch after Homeland says au revoir. The series follows France's Directorate-General for External Security, which is basically the country's CIA and specializes in agents who go on long undercover missions in areas of interest, such as the Middle East and Northern Africa. The main character is a man pulled back to Paris from being undercover for six years in Syria, and he must now reconcile with his family after spending time with a new lover abroad, one he can't help but stay in contact with, and one who has secrets of her own. It's got an insane attention to detail, as well as a complex plot that will pay off huge for those who are patient.