Though I usually stick to watching sports, comedies or programs with educational aspects to them like Dexter, The Walking Dead or pretty much anything on the History or Discovery Channels, I am always looking for something that stands out from the bevy of pretentious and boringly predictable shows. I want to drive my car through an elementary playground when I have to hear about shows like “Kate Plus 8“, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or “Real Housewives“. It’s not only frustrating that people are rich and famous for accomplishing absolutely nothing in their lives, but that so many people actually invest time in following them.

I’ve become enthralled with the Showtime original series “Homeland“. The show is actually a remake of the Israeli TV series “Hatufim” (Hebrew for prisoners). “Hatufim” traces what happens when three IDF soldiers, captured in a botched mission in Lebanon, return after being held captive by Syria for 17 years. (Syria occupied Lebanon for nearly thirty years). Their wives and families become household names, and their ordeal sparks national debate about how Israel should handle prisoners of war. There are about 1,500 repatriated hatufim living in Israel, and much like the war veterans here in the United States, they are forgotten after the parades and celebrations end and are left trying to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.

Creator and director Gideon Raff (executive producer for “Homeland”) meticulously researched the subject by interviewing former POWs, their families, and the psychologists who treat them. He wanted to understand what life is really like after you’ve lost years of your life being tortured and left rotting in a dungeon in some foreign country. While “Homeland” is more of a thriller exploring the American psyche upon the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, “Hatufim” is more of a domestic drama of life after captivity.

I guess what really draws me to “Homeland” is the focus on the psychological aspects of national security and how much of myself I see in the characters. There’s the bipolar CIA agent who must keep her condition secret from her employer for fear of losing everything she cares about and has worked so hard for. She exhibits some risky behavior and can be vulnerable and insecure one moment and ruthless the next, but she is driven and refuses to lose or ever give up.

There’s the depressed CIA agent who’s wife has finally left him for good because he hasn’t spent a full night at home in years and when he has been around hasn’t been completely “present” because of his intense focus on his calling. He is a shadow of the man he used to be and seems resigned to being alone for the rest of his life.

There’s the Marine sniper suspected of having been turned into an al-queda operative who is trying to rekindle his marriage after his best friend served as his proxy for several years. He is also trying to reconnect with the two kids who don’t really know him. In addition to this, he is being marketed as the poster child of liberty and pressured by the Vice President not only to re-enlist but to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. He is being pulled in all directions and trying to please everyone except himself, which makes me wonder if he really was brainwashed in captivity and is now a part of a bigger cause.

There’s his wife, who six years after being told her husband was dead and she had started receving death benefits, finally tried to move on with her life and fell in love with her husband’s best friend.

There’s his best friend who, regardless of his best efforts and good deeds, has been brushed aside like nothing happened and forced to let the love of his life go without a fight because he is a nice guy who respects his friend. All he got was a pat on the back and a “thanks dude”.

There are so many layers and plot twists to this series and the time and effort put into producing the show respects your intelligence.


~ by vann1912 on 6 December, 2011.

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