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Suave, strangely attractive, charming, father, husband…. Serial killer?
This is the premise of Showtime’s incredibly popular hit Dexter which follows a blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metropolitan Police, who brutally murders people in his spare time.
The catch? He has a strangely twisted series of ethics drilled into him by his loving adopted father Harry, which he refers to as ‘Harry’s code’. The code basically means Dexter can only murder murderers. And he has to have proved that the people did commit murders before he can kill them.
The series has just concluded a successful fifth season and looks set to begin filming for the sixth, which will begin airing again in September.
The strange thing about this show is the intense sympathy and affection that the audience grows to feel for Dexter. You watch him murder people, over and over again, and at the end of the day you still feel like if you ran into him on the street you’d buy him a coffee and shake him heartily by the hand.
Perhaps it is because he makes such an effort to murder the guilty and other murderers, I think if the show was about Dexter the Kitten Murderer it would have a much different, and much smaller, audience base.
During the shows second season Dexter’s handiwork is discovered, and the reactions of his contemporaries in the fore mirror the reactiosn of the audience. They almost want to thank this mysterious killer, who is ridding the world of other murderers. He comes to be seen as almost a hero who preys on the evil in the world. People even beging to ascribe moral reasons for Dexter’s deadly actions.
But Dexter is not killing because he wants to rid the world of evil or he feels let down by the justice system. He’s killing because he wants to murder people, and he and his father have come up with an almost socially acceptable way of allowing him to murder.
What makes the show so intriguing is watching Dexter’s stumbling, misguided attempts to come to terms with these dark desires and also how to become an actual person. He’s assisted in this quest by his loving partner Rita and smart talking, on-edge, intense foster sister Deborah.
The show is not afraid of killing off characters, so be warned. While watching this there will be tears, and cries of ‘No! No! How could you? You killed them you bastards! Why? Why are you doing this to me?’ before collapsing weeping on the ground.
You spend the show alternately wanting to hug Dexter, yell at him, hit him on the back of the head and run away screaming from him. Sometimes all at the same time.