Ever since Homeland premiered, fans of Showtime's extraordinary gem have been dying to say it "Jumped The Shark." This isn't really surprising -- since thanks to the internet everyone thinks their opinion matters. Unfortunately the world is filled with haters and followers and the minute anyone says anything negative, the rest of the sheep in this world can't wait to jump on board. Every show seems to "jump the shark" after the pilot thanks to twitter and fan forums these days.
But, with Homeland, fans were particularly eager to throw it under the bus. Which makes sense- we live in a world that celebrates mediocrity. Homeland is just way too good for its audience. This is the classic case of pearls before swine and the world doesn't deserve such an amazing show. It has managed to stay so profoundly relevant on everything that truly matters with what's going on in our world for four years without once faltering- this season it is covering drone strikes, the media's coverage of them, and the public's polarized reaction. Not to mention being entertaining, gripping and perfectly acted.
The show is actually flawless -- and it always has been.
So, why are fans so desperate to say it has "jumped the shark" when really, it's still the best show on television -- and always has been? For a number of reasons, really;
First off; it's the lingo. People love this phrase. It somehow makes them feel like they know what they're talking about to say these three words "Jumped The Shark", yet very few of the people who say it know where it originated. The phrase comes from an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie literally JUMPED OVER A SHARK, bringing audiences to the moment where they could no longer follow the show. At this point the phrase is so over-saturated that anyone who uses it for sure has no idea what they're talking about. "Jump The Shark" has jumped the shark. Let's wipe it out.
Second; there's meme's, gif's and social media that have led people to think that there is something wrong with Homeland -- particularly Claire Danes (who is actually the best part of the show.) The phrase "cry-face" has been used to describe Claire Dane's phenomenal acting as she goes into her often emotional bipolar breakdowns. This has probably been one of the biggest deterrents for Homeland fans.
All over the internet you see people complaining about Carrie's "Cry-face." Anne Hathaway (of all people, that brilliant actress -- I hope you can detect my sarcasm) did a skit on Saturday Night Live (Is that show even still relevant?) depicting the mimicked face. It soon became so mocked that every time Claire Dane's cried, Homeland fans declared it "Jumped The Shark."
People have said this about Claire Danes since she started acting- that she looks "unattractive" when she cries. I guess she just doesn't look as pretty as that serious actress KERRY WASHINGTON on that serious show SCANDAL when she cries(Again, I hope you detect my sarcasm.) For Homeland's third season, Claire Dane's wasn't even nominated for the Golden Globe, but Kerry Washington was for her network soap opera. Can we get more ridiculous? I remember seeing an interview with Jessica Alba on how she almost left acting because the director of The Fantastic Four told her she looked too unattractive when she cried and she should try to "cry prettier."
This is the ridiculous world we live in. That an actress cannot cry on screen without fear of being called an "ugly crier." Danes is easily the best actress out there right now, definitely of her generation, but God Forbid, she looks ugly when she cries! Cancel the show! It has jumped the shark!
Here's another complaint; She cries too much. She's supposedly too emotional. Fans of the show have turned against Carrie's impulsive, and often promiscuous nature, horrified by the protagonist. For the new season, reviews have applauded the fact that Carrie has "stopped crying" -- as if writers have "realized their mistake" and listened to the fans in some way.
This shows just how much fans do not understand what they are watching at all.
Carrie Mathison is bipolar. And with my psychological background, I'm going to go an extra step and say she's also Borderline. Like her sister said in tonight's episode; "There isn't even a diagnosis for what you have." From someone who knows the disorder intrinsically, Claire Danes is playing it so flawlessly that she should be handed all the Emmy's until the show decides to go off the air. The writers haven't realized their mistake- Carrie went through a serious trauma and this is her "numbing stage" of her disorder- which again the actress is playing perfectly.
Fans constantly compare it to 24 since it is made by the same creators of Homeland, and gripe about how different the shows can be and how different Carrie and Jack Bauer are. Unfortunately for fans of 24, these are two very different types of shows. 24 is a network television ACTION SHOW. Homeland is a cable DRAMA. This is like comparing The Fast And The Furious to Schindler's List. Homeland has eight billion levels that the one-note 24 will never reach, and was never supposed to reach.
We were working in absolutes on 24 -- there were heroes and villains. Most audiences like that and understand that. Homeland lives in a gray area that unfortunately is too smart for a lot of audiences. Everyone on Homeland is an anti-hero or an anti-villain and everyone has about fourteen conflicting inner-monologues at once. This isn't some cartoon, or Western flick where you know who the good guys and bad guys are. We are working with deeply conflicted, complex characters -- which is really the only way that you can tell a story like the fourteen year war we've been waging.
Jack Bauer was not a bipolar character. Sure, he was an impulsive agent -- but he was not bipolar. And on top of that? He was not a woman -- which says the same for other more complex characters on television. If Walter White, Don Draper or Dexter engage in questionable acts, they are considered "bad-asses." When Carrie Mathison, Nancy Botwin, or Hannah Horvath engage in questionable acts? They're "crazy" or "sluts." Homeland having a female lead protagonist in a show that was mainly designed toward a male demographic was a hard move to come by from the start.
And then, there was the Brody factor.
The male lead that fans have followed from the beginning was Brody. As previously stated- men do not want to get behind a woman protagonist. Especially one they see as over-emotional, crazy and slutty. Women don't even want to get behind a woman protagonist- they have no camaraderie amongst each other. Proving my point that men can do no wrong- fans loved Brody. Brody was a sinister liar who was ready to strap a bomb to himself and blow up a room full of Americans, but Carrie sleeps with three guys in three years and doesn't look attractive when she cries and she's the bad guy. For years, everyone boasted that "Brody was the show."
This is absolutely absurd. As absolutely amazing as Damien Lewis is as an actor and as wonderful as the character of Brody was, Claire Danes is, was and will always be the heart of Homeland. In a spy thriller where everyone is cunning, brilliant and manipulative- Brody was always just a pawn in everyone's game. Abu Nazir was more interesting. Javadi was more interesting. Saul and Quinn are both far better characters. And again, Carrie is the show.
And with Brody, you get his wretched family. If tonight's episode showed us anything it's that a world without Brody is a far, far better world.
As tonight's episode aired, cheers were heard around the world that "Homeland is back on top!" But...it never left the top. Even last year, every other episode offered twitter feeds where fans were celebrating that #homelandisback! Followed by #homelandjumpedtheshark again in the very next episode. I expect the same exact thing all over again this year. It's a brilliant show presented in front of an audience that rarely understands the material and it's in its fourth year. If you don't expect this, then you don't know how TV works.
But, we're in a golden age of television -- and look at all the imitators that have piled up to try and desperately be the next Homeland. From the highbrow and excellent shows like The Bridge and The Americans, to the more low-brow versions like The Blacklist and The Box. Then, there was the completely pitiful renditions, like episodes of Castle and the absolutely sad and pathetic State Of Affairs with Katherine Heigl- which should really be called SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS- they even went as far as to name Heigl's character Charlie! Why not just go all the way and name her Carrie? The trailer reads like a worse parody than the Saturday Night Live skit. But, what do you expect from the brilliant Katherine Heigl? (Again, do you detect the sarcasm?)
Point is -- everyone can keep trying to water down this great show for audiences who just can't seem to grasp it, but for those of us who do? We know it's never dipped down from top shelf. Claire Danes might not look pretty when she cries, but she's a damn good actress when she does it, and that's what matters. It's one of the many factors that keeps us hooked and lets us know;
There's truly no place like Homeland.