Is “Homeland” stoking anti-Islamic prejudice?

Updated comment on beginning of third series:


Homeland – watched first episode of the third series – it’s free online. While I enjoyed it – it’s well acted, and is dramatic – the continuing emphasis of the series disturbs me. I’ll preface this by saying I am all in favour of a drama series that looks from the perspective of the CIA – that’s interesting ground and worth exploring. What concerns me is that this is effectively a pro-Drone series. I have yet to see (in several episodes) a single nuanced view of Islam that does not equate it with the Other, terrorism, fanaticism and extremism. This is a world in which the Islamic other is neatly and comfortably eliminated by ruthlessly efficient CIA operations. This is a world in which the fundamental assumptions of a War on Terror and the CIA mission that backs it is not questioned, or examined. That disturbs me. In a series about the CIA I don’t want to be presented with already entrenched (and false) stereotypes about Islam – but I do want an examination of not just the psychological aspects of working for the CIA (which this series does rather well) but of the moral and political (in the broad sense of what is good policy) dynamics involved in that work. I have so far seen no evidence that this series does that.


Thoughts about the TV series “Homeland”.

I’ve only watched three episodes of this – the very first two, and the first of the second series – so I’m wondering what people who have seen more think. I understand it’s hugely popular, and it’s certainly a gripping series – well acted – Damian Lewis is phenomenal, and Clare Daines is very good – playing a perhaps too unsympathetic character.

I was entertained, but disturbed by the episodes I saw – and left uneasy. And one aspect of that, I realise, is that ALL the portrayals of Islam in those three episodes as I recall it – veer toward the violent, the brutal, the weird and the alien. From Brody’s experiences in captivity – by an Islamic militant group, who apparently force him to bludgeon his fellow soldier to death, and torture him – to the Islamic woman who comes to see Brody and presumably suggests some kind of terrorist action – to Brody himself – the segments where he prays, and handles the Koran. His wife is totally horrified when he says he’s a Moslem – and “can’t believe” his remark that the Koran shouldn’t have been knocked to the ground – to scenes of violence in the Middle East, menace on the streets, in jail etc etc. (Oh yes, there’s also the depiction of the despicable Saudi prince – who basically pays professional sex slaves to be at his disposal.)

It’s not that I’m opposed to dealing with these subjects – including Islamic extremism – but when ALL the references are on these lines – ALL the segments on Islam relate to terror, violence or weird alienness – I begin to wonder – couldn’t the writers have taken a more balanced approach to this? I’m old enough to remember the Cold War – and in those days, the “enemy” was usually some stereotypical, cold Russian – now it’s almost always a “Moslem fanatic”. It seems not only to me a lack of imagination, but a lack of insight and perspective – not to mention raising the obvious danger of contributing to prejudice about Islam.

What to others who have seen more of the series think about this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: