(The ten best dramas of 2012 were revealed on Hulu’s homepage this week. Here’s your winner. To view the rest of the list, click here.)
1 – Homeland
Let’s be real: The first season of Homeland was an epic masterpiece.
After it ended for me, anxiety sunk in. This show that I became addicted to, that I finished watching in merely two days and had made me all sorts of Carrie Mathison-crazy, pretty much left me incredibly satisfied: The mystery behind Brody was the driving force of the series, and that had all pretty much unraveled by season’s end.
Yet season two definitely brought it. While it may not have had the magic of the misdirection that made the first one so compelling, it certainly kept its badge as one of the best — and most addicting — shows on television. The creators were able to continually weave a story of unexpected depth and mystery beyond Brody — not an easy undertaking for a show that began with such an enigmatic and powerful storyline.
Set six months after the season one finale, the second season fleshed out Abu Nazir’s plan, had Nick Brody (Damien Lewis) as a political powerhouse as well as Vice President Walden’s choice for a running mate for his presidential run. Intriguing characters were introduced that we could only be suspicious of, such as Peter Quinn, a kind-of-obnoxious CIA black-ops agent elegantly played by Brit actor Rupert Friend. And recurring characters were fleshed out: Brody’s daughter Dana snagged herself a main storyline that started out quite endearing; The blossoming Dana and Finn relationship peaked with a night time kiss inside the Washington Monument (oh, young love!) then crashed and burned with a fatal hit and run. Even worse, Dana was season-one-annoying once again.
Ironically, this show about terrorism is, essentially, a love story. The second season moved along the Carrie and Brody relationship. And you can say whatever you want: Is it unrealistic? Sure. But it’s a TV show, and the undeniable chemistry between Carrie and Brody is earth-shattering hot: It’s intense, sexy, heartbreaking, sweet. From the kiss in the clearing to the motel tryst, they know that feeling this way is wrong, but in those rare moments they can be alone, wrong is right. You want to root for these two crazy kids.
But of course, it’s Claire Danes who absolutely runs this show. As a strong female protagonist, she’s layered in ways rarely seen on TV. Carrie is reckless and self-destructive, yet she’s passionate and perceptive. We’ve experienced her extreme lows (the night she tried to kill herself with wine and a dozen pills), extreme highs (her smile the moment she found out she was right about Brody), and her raw intensity that’s sometimes difficult to watch, all in between.
In what was one of the best scenes of the season, Carrie has a drink with Brody at the hotel bar as part of a CIA surveillance of Brody. After, Quinn orders her to come back to the headquarters, but instead, she goes up to Brody’s hotel room where she immediately blows her cover and tells him that she knows everything. As Saul and Quinn listen in and as federal agents arrest him, Carrie also reveals that she loved him. Although you’d cringe if this were anyone else, you don’t want to do that when it comes to Carrie. Her reckless honesty breaks us, right in the heart.
Maybe season two wasn’t perfect, but Homeland has continued to hook us in with complex characters with shades of grey. Sure, the show still surprises us with incredibly smart and unexpected plot twists and cliffhangers, but what it really excels in is illustrating Carrie and Brody’s journey together toward goodness, and hopefully, some kind of happiness.—Sheila Dichoso