I just finished up a whirlwind viewing of the first season of Showtime’s Dexter. I watched all 12 episodes in a span of one week. The show is that good! I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but was interested based on the positive critical buzz surrounding the show. Well, after completing the first season from start to finish, I have nothing but overwhelming praise for Dexter. Still skeptical? Keep reading for ten reasons I think this is a show you should watch.
- Michael C. Hall is truly amazing in the role of Dexter Morgan. If I had watched this show before I posted my Dream Emmy Ballot, I would have found a spot for him on the list. He does a fantastic job of playing the role of a self-described “emotionally hollow” person trying to emulate human feelings like camaraderie, love, grief, etc.
- The show is laugh-out-loud funny at times. This show is more dark comedy than grisly horror, despite being about a serial killer. The humor is very dry, and well-timed. Most of the comedic moments come when we see a situation unfolding that appears to be one thing, but we know that Dexter feels very differently about it through his narration.
- The voice-over narration is extremely effective. Sometimes narrators on a show can be distracting, and feel unnecessary. With this show, however, Dexter’s commentary on his life and interactions with others is a crucial part of understanding his complex identity. He is a guide of sorts for viewers, giving us hints about how he is feeling (or as is usually the case, how he is not feeling), since it is very difficult to read his body language.
- The main storyline of season one is cleverly crafted and entertaining. While the main appeal of the show is, for me, its uniqueness, the Ice Truck Killer story arc is engaging, smart, and satisfying. I won’t say more, so as not to give anything away.
- The opening credits and theme song are a perfect match for the show. And the opening sequence is fun to watch. Through some deceptive camera work, menial tasks like frying bacon, flossing teeth, and tying shoes are given a violent, grotesque quality, and it is difficult to tell whether you are watching scenes from a grisly murder or the everyday tasks that are actually being performed. While all this is happening, the music is somewhere between eerily cheerful and oddly disturbing.
- The secondary characters are well-developed. Most of the secondary characters are very easy to like, including Dexter’s girlfriend Rita, his sister Deborah, and his co-worker Angel. Each character is given flaws, believable personalities, etc. One stand-out among the excellent cast is Erik King as Sergeant Doakes. Strangely, he is the only person who works with Dexter that thinks something is “off” about him. Nearly all of their encounters are brimming with awkwardness because of this, and sometimes these scenes are very funny.
- Dexter’s victims are often played by established actors. On most crime procedurals, murder victims are played by lesser known actors because they don’t play a very large role in the episode. But apparently there is as much interest in playing a murder victim on Dexter as there is in landing a part on Heroes (I mean, who isn’t appearing on that show this season?). I don’t necessarily know the names of these actors, but there were several who I recognized from their many television and movie appearances.
- The Miami setting is the perfect contrast to the show’s dark tone. The bright colors, loud music, and overall flashiness of Miami intensify the darkness of Dexter’s inner struggles, and make the murder investigations all the more disturbing.
- What other show has made a serial killer so likable? I just love Dexter. He is strangely a very appealing character, and through his narration some of the “darker” aspects of typical human behavior are revealed, making him not seem that much worse than the rest of us.
- It’s so much more than a show about a serial killer who kills serial killers. If this show were simply a gore-fest, it wouldn’t be nearly as compelling. But as a study of the human psyche, and the effects that traumatic experiences can have on one’s ability to be human, it is fascinating to watch. Yes, the show has some elements of suspense, and a touch of horror, but it also incorporates comedy, drama, and action. If I had to categorize it, I would call it a darkly comedic police procedural.
So there you have it. Season Two begins at the end of September, so you have plenty of time to start from the beginning. Since I don’t have Showtime, I am going to have to figure out some way to keep up with the show. I don’t know that I could wait another year to watch the new episodes (when they come out on DVD). For now, I will settle for reading the novel that the show is based on, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.