The start of Season Two of Homeland was exciting, gripping, and frankly shocking at times. The first four episodes of this season continue to flush out the characters, open new storylines while also providing more detail of the ongoing storylines from Season One, and delivered an ending on the fourth episode of the second season that surely evoked some sort of reaction out of its viewers. Even though I find myself eager to view the middle four episodes of this season (not to mention the remaining episodes of the entire show’s run), I also found myself getting utterly annoyed at the portrayal of Carrie in this series. Specifically the way the show continues to remain fixated on portraying her to be vacuous, unprofessional, and overambitious. Even though Carrie, the protagonist, by all accounts should be a strong virtuous rising star of the CIA, instead the show resorts to using a trite ploy, having a man be the central reason for making poor choices.
By now viewers are well aware that Carrie suffers from bipolar disorder and at the end of Season One, she received ECS treatment so she would not have to, as Carrie puts it, “live this way”. The show made mention that the CIA could not know about Carrie’s affliction as it would compromise her position as a CIA agent. So even though Homeland laid the foundation of what may explain some of her actions, her bipolarity aside, still make her out to be an unprofessional mad woman.
There have been many instances where Carrie acted unprofessionally. Sleeping with the head of the CIA, sleeping with a major terror suspect, and posting confidential material on a wall in her home are just to name a few. While I do not possess a background as a CIA agent, I would think these actions are illegal, immoral, and certainly unprofessional. The sentiments I am posting in this blog are in stark contrast to my earlier postings about Carrie. Previously I viewed her as someone who is entirely devoted to her career and loyal to the mission of stopping terrorism on American soil and with a tough-as-nails, kick-ass persona to boot. What a great role model Carrie could be to young women! While these are worthwhile and admirable qualities and work ethic, the writers and creators of Homeland seem intent on their audience viewing her through a lens of a deeply flawed protagonist who puts her team in danger on a regular basis while compromising her ethics because of a man..
Kathleen McInnis from The Atlantic wrote an interesting article that covers how Homeland undercuts real women in government. McInnis does not just focus on the inadequacies of Homeland, but nonetheless makes a good case especially in this day and age when there are real strong capable women in the United States government. Mcinnis ought to know. She worked in and around the US national security establishment for some time—from military bases in Community Support Centers to the halls of the Pentagon to the battlefields of Afghanistan.
According to McInnis, by contrast, men in similar roles as Carrie are either superhuman, or their flaws contribute to their overall likeability. Or both. On the one end, we have Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan: Tom Clancy’s political version of Superman, who overcomes national security challenges with his beautiful family by his side. Towards the middle of the spectrum we have Bob Russell, the Vice President in The West Wing couldn’t be more different than Selena Meyer in Veep. Rather than clawing for any opportunity for notoriety, he proves himself a savvy member of the Executive Branch. On the other end of the spectrum we have Jack Bauer in 24. He tortures people. Yet he’s still a likeable character. To my knowledge, none of them hit on the boss.
In the first season, Carrie lets on to Brody that the CIA is onto him. This was during passionate weekend in a cabin in the woods. But her love and obsession for Brody temporarily clouded her judgement and led her to utter that huge faux pas. Carrie is often shown in an anguished emotional state and ended up in a psych ward at the end of Season One. In contrast leading male characters in a similar role would not make such a mistake. In fact a lot of male characters are often portrayed as stoic, strong, and able to not get swayed by matters of the heart.
These anti-feminist views is like a sinister undercurrent in what otherwise is a great show. Maybe Carrie will eventually become someone who resembles some of today’s strong, intelligent, and capable women in high ranking government roles. I sure hope so.