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PAMELA AUCOIN: How HOMELAND validates the war on terror

Pop culture serves to entertain, and reinforce cultural norms. Television shows have always done this; studying them, and their attitudes towards authority reveals a lot about America. One of the most well-received shows of the season is Showtime’s "Homeland." The series features a fine pedigree of actors, like Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, and was originally a show on Israeli television. While that may not sound exactly like the BBC, it still has the allure of the foreign-produced, which suggests a less provincial background.
  • By Pamela AuCoin
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  • January 26, 2012 6:05 AM
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GREY MATTERS: HOMELAND and the art of playing crazy

As a certified crazy person, I’m here to tell you that either vampires burn in daylight or they don’t. I’ll accept no wiggle room on this. Anything less and you’ll quickly lose my suspension of disbelief. To get what I’m babbling about, this way, please. I’m talking about "Homeland," which is, by the way, about almost nothing but crazy people. "Homeland," in case you’ve been busy catching up on something more realistic – I suggest Syfy’s zero-dollar wonder, Alphas – is about Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. operations officer haunted by the notion that she failed to do something that may have stopped 9/11 from happening. She was also compromised in an Iraq operation because of an American soldier who’d turned against his country.
  • By Ian Grey
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  • December 28, 2011 4:17 AM
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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: Should HOMELAND have quit while it was ahead?

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck might not seem to belong in a review of a searing cable drama about terrorism, but bear with me, OK? In the climax of Show Biz Bugs (1957), in which Bugs and Daffy compete for the right to claim top billing in a show, Daffy decides he’s had enough of being bested by the rabbit and hauls out his trump card, self-immolation. “I must warn those with weak constitutions to leave the theater for this performance,” the duck says, then swallows gasoline, nitro glycerine, gunpowder, uranium and a lit match, and explodes. “That’s terrific, Daffy!” Bugs exclaims from the wings, over thunderous applause. “They loved it! They want more!” “I know, I know,” says Daffy’s ghost, floating toward the rafters. “But I can only do it once!”
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 19, 2011 3:50 AM
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  • 1 Comment

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: When great TV shows disappoint

As regular readers know, I sometimes fall head-over-heels in love with promising new shows, and when they deliver a problematic or outright bad episode, it’s disillusioning. I tell myself it’s the nature of the beast — that it’s hard to make just one great half-hour or hour-long episode, let alone 10 or 12 or 26 in a row. The law of averages has to catch up eventually. But that doesn’t change the fact that a show that once seemed to have excellent judgment suddenly made what felt like out-of-character or flat-out stupid choices. A botch-job episode can make you wonder if you were right to like the show in the first place. At its most misjudged and tone-deaf, a bad episode of an otherwise terrific series can emphasize flaws you were previously inclined to overlook. It can even make you second-guess the things you praised in the past.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 30, 2011 1:15 AM
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