Dexter: A Definite Addiction

Usually it’s not a secret when I’m a fan of a TV show.  But there’s one show that comes second only to Doctor Who when it comes to my fangirlishness; a show that makes one year seem twice as long when I’m waiting for a new season.  But I don’t talk about my love for it very much, because it seems, well… kind of wrong.

See, I’m a fan of Dexter.  I root for a serial killer.

Do what, now?

Dexter works for the Miami Police Department – homicide.  He’s not a cop, though – he’s a blood-spatter analyst, with an incredible eye for detail.  When he can, he helps bring murderers to justice.  Occasionally, though, the system fails, and someone Dexter knows is a cold-blooded killer walks free.  And that’s when his incredible eye for detail comes in handy – he kills the killers, and he doesn’t get caught.  But he’s more than just a gory Batman; he likes killing.  His victims might all be truly evil people, but he is, without a doubt, a serial killer.

So wrong, yet so right

I shouldn’t like this show.  I really shouldn’t.  It’s incredibly gory – there’s some sort of murder or dead body in pretty much every episode.  It’s a Showtime show, which means they don’t pull any punches when it comes to the red corn syrup and the scary makeup.  And in order for you to root for Dexter, you have to be sufficiently convinced that his victims are far worse than he is – and that can get disturbing.

But it’s such a good show – well-written, superbly-acted.  And context does matter – for all the blood, it still manages to feel less gratuitous than, say, True Blood.  Dexter himself is a multi-layered character, and every season new questions are explored.  What creates a serial killer?  Can you stop if you wanted to?  Can you have meaningful relationships with other people?  There are often comparisons between Dexter’s compulsion to kill and drug addiction, but trust me, this is no ham-handed allegory.

Big Bad

The first season of Dexter sticks very close to its source material – which happens to be a mystery.  As a result, the identity of the season’s main antagonist is kept secret ’til the end.  While it made for a thrilling, intriguing season, later seasons chose to introduce their “Big Bad” early on, which has proven to be much more satisfying.  This way, Dexter is not necessarily the most clever, most powerful character, and the viewer gets to enjoy what the face of evil looks like in another guise.

Warm, Fuzzy Family

No one truly knows what Dexter is – and yet he’s surrounded by a group of truly warm, likeable people.  I’ll be tuning in this season to see what happens to Dexter, but also to his co-workers and family.  Even if you don’t always like a supporting character, you always feel something for them.  And they provide the balance to the show, whether it’s comedy to lighten things up or something that adds heart when Dexter gets a bit too dark.

Cut to the chase

The new season of Dexter starts in October.  This doesn’t necessarily give you enough time to get through all five seasons before it begins, but it gives you enough time to get more than a taste and decide if it’s the show for you.  Do yourself a favor, though, and begin at the beginning – the show builds and builds on itself, and it would be a shame to spoil all that development.

What about you?  Are you a fan of Dexter who’s looking forward to the new season?  If not, would you ever give the show a chance?  


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