Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dexter Season 1 is ruining my Weight Watchers plan

OMG Deb! Look up! Your brother is a murderer!!!

So, uh, yeah... I finally saw season 1 of Dexter almost 5 years after it first aired on Showtime. I like my television shows to marinate for a while before I get into them. I started watching Lost in season 3 and The X-Files at the tail end of season 2. I have a hard time watching television from the beginning as it airs. I like to know a show is nice and developed before I invest my time. Because I'm picky about my television. Yes, even the trash television. I can only watch one or two shows at a time, so I choose them carefully. Right now, these shows happen to be Dexter and RuPaul's Drag Race.


I like Dexter a lot. I had my doubts at first. Suspension of disbelief can be a tricky thing. I'm still not entirely on board with the idea that Harry taught Dexter how to be a conscientious serial killer as opposed to getting him psychiatric help, but whatever. There wouldn't be a show if Harry hadn't had incredibly fucked up ideas about how to raise a child.

But Dexter has really surprised me, and I'm not often surprised in terms of storytelling. If a plot point catches me off guard, the narrative is a good one. In season 1 of Dexter, I knew who the ice Truck Killer was ahead of time, but only kind of. The big reveal about how he was connected to Dexter came out of nowhere. But, pesky suspension of disbelief again, why the hell would Harry take one kid out of a blood soaked storage unit and not the other one? I hope there's more to this story in future episodes.

Only one of you will grow up in a loving family. The other one can fuck off.
Dexter has superb plot development and witty writing. I love the first person narrative, which is really unique to television and usually done badly. But this works. Dexter doesn't quite break the fourth wall, and without his thoughts made clear, this would be an entirely different program.

Writing engaging main characters takes talent. If we're going to stare at the same person for 43 minutes (with commercial breaks) a week, then we better like him or her. But what makes Dexter great instead of just good are its secondary characters. They're like grace notes - not always noticeable when present but the piece would suffer for their absence. And in their absence, we realize just how important they are. For example, I get really bummed if my favorite secondary character isn't featured in an episode.

Dear Mr. Batista: My husband would like his wardrobe back. Kthxbai.

I adore Angel Batista. And because I adore him, he'll probably die fairly quickly. Mr. Two Monkeys and I are about 3 episodes into season 2, and Angel has discovered Oprah. I haven't laughed so hard at television in a long time. And the humor of this show with a horribly grisly premise is part of what makes it so good. I can laugh at Angel and his character does not cheapen the show. On the contrary, Angel may say and do funny things, but he has his own tragic story that only catches minutes of camera time here and there.  All of the not so major players have fully developed lives that do not revolve around Dexter Morgan. And the glimpses we get of these lives are just enough to keep us wanting more without overwhelming the main point of the show, which is: Dexter kills killers and becomes conflicted about this as time goes on.

The only character I don't like is Rita. I really hope she grows over time, and yes I know what happens to her later. But by the time she meets her nasty end, I want to be sad that she's gone. I don't know - maybe part of my issue with her is that I know she dies so I don't want to get too attached. But damn if she isn't the whiniest, most co dependant character on pay TV.

"Dexter, I have to poop, but I thought I would ask your permission first. Is that okay with you?"
Grr. I really, really hope she matures as a character. I understand - her ex often beat her into submission and she's very put upon. Rita's character is one of frailty, and this is why Dexter is attracted to her. I get this. But Rita's problem solving skills are almost nonexistent, and when she isn't harassing Dexter with her poor decision making abilities, she's nagging him to go to NA. I know that part is in season 2, but damn woman, he does everything for you. Just let him kill people once in a while.

Overall, I like this show a lot. There are the disbelief issues - the other major one being how the hell Deb doesn't know her brother is messed up. She was engaged to the Ice Truck Killer and was raised with another serial killer. How does she not sense something, anything, is amiss?

"Where did that dead body come from? It was there when you got here? Oh, okay."
But yeah, I look forward to watching the rest of the series, albeit long after everyone else. I just hope there aren't as many donuts in subsequent seasons. Another question I hope gets an answer: How do all of these characters stay so thin while eating so many donuts?

1 comment:

  1. there is logic to why Harry chose Dexter. Give it time. And season 3 is a little rough to get through at times. Season 4 makes up for it.