Is Dexter Killer TV ?

For several years we refused to watch Dexter on principle - that principle being that glorifying serial killers was going a step too far. Sure, we've had to put up with a decade of CSI like dramas but Dexter seemed new and dangerous. We had tolerated the spate of Hannibal Lector related movies because the mega-drama involved seemed a bit unreal. Showtime's Dexter is a different animal altogether; it's an ongoing character study in what makes a killer tick - but not just any study - it's a biased and markedly sympathetic view.

Michael C. Hall is Dexter Morgan, the serial killer next door
Dexter has been around for a long time - it's in its 7th season which makes it one of the longest running shows on Cable television. It's also been one of Showtime's highest rated original shows ever. So why the fascination with this character and this story? We had planned on ignoring all of this but found ourselves travelling on an extended trip and the hotel only had Showtime. Dexter was the only thing playing so we gave in and watched. There are no big stars in Dexter, but lot's of interesting characters. Dexter himself drives most of the action although he has a unique relationship with his dead brother (a former killer himself played by veteran actor James Remar) - this provides a sort of 1st as 3rd person narration that serves as a window into Dexter's troubled psyche. 

There's interesting things going on behind the scenes as well - the actor who played Dexter, Michael C. Hall was married to (and has now divorced) his co-star Jennifer Carpenter who plays his sister in the show. This season they've revealed that the character of the sister Debra Morgan is in love with her brother. Hall also was diagnosed Hodgkin's lymphoma recently (it's now in remission).


The show continues to push its own limits

The show takes place in Miami which somehow seems fitting; Miami was the backdrop for Scarface and Miami Vice as well as the birthplace for CSI. Miami and killing continue to be linked in popular culture - with this year's face eating incident taking the South Florida to a new level of infamy. Dexter even brought in Edward Jame Olmos or EJO (Miami Vice's Castillo) last season to add some Miami Nostalgia to the mix.
EJO was the coolest guy in Miami during the 1980's
Back to the original question - is the show and its premise really worth exploring? Hall seems entirely believable as the sociopath Dexter yet the show seems to be peeling away the feeble excuses as to why it's ok for him to be killing everyone in sight by ditching his "Dark Passenger" and letting him revel in the joy of killing as a stress relief mechanism. Our recommendation is a guarded one - this show should not be viewed by anyone under 17 or by people with overly impressionable minds. It's interesting drama with a very twisted worldview. Just this week there was another real life Dexter in the news - Isreal Keyes - when asked why he went around killing folks across America he simply replied "why not." Perhaps people like Keyes may feel that way because partly because they see so much of it on television and movies and it seems as though it's becoming accepted or acceptable behavior (in Dexter his sister is first shocked at finding out what her brother does as a hobby but within 4 episodes is asking him to kill someone for her).

Perhaps it's time our culture ended its love affair with true crime and sadistic killers - who knows, we might actually end up a healthier, safer place to live. 


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