When the Show You Like Goes on Too Long, Gets Bad, But You Can’t Stop Watching: Yes, It’s 2019, and I am Just Now Watching ‘Dexter’
The thing about being a writer on the Internet is that most everything we watch, we’re watching to write about. That’s just how this whole “pop culture writer” thing works. You watch a movie or a TV show and you try to figure out your reactions to it or analysis of it, and then you pitch a piece, and then you write it, and then you obsess over the one negative comment you get on it from some asshole bot on Twitter, and then you go about your life, on to the next one.
But to keep myself from being too overwhelmed by only consuming things I then have to figure out a way to monetize, I also am always watching something that is fairly low-impact and kind of fun. That won’t make me weep like The Last Black Man in San Francisco or stare in shock like Chernobyl or fill me with rage, like that goddamn Mary Louise Perry on Big Little Lies. And what I’m watching right now—what I am only two episodes away from finishing!—is that little old prestige TV show that become intolerably bad: Dexter.
“Why, OF ALL THINGS, have you devoted dozens of hours of your life to Dexter?” you might ask, and that’s because Dexter is a perfect mindless show! The reason this came about was because my partner, despite never having watched Game of Thrones before and subject to years of my increasingly resentful complaints about D.B. Benioff and Dan Weiss, joined me in watching the final season. As he saw me rage out about how it all ended, he countered with, “You want a really bad final season of TV? Let’s watch Dexter!”
And honestly, it was the right choice! First of all, Dexter ended a while ago, back in 2013, so I can binge it all at once. It’s on Netflix, so it’s easily accessible. It was popular enough that I knew of spoilers for the show while it was airing, so I’m in no danger of being ruined right now. I knew about the season four reveal and the journey that Michael C. Hall’s Dexter takes to Alaska, but even I wasn’t prepared for how strongly the writing starts out and then how significantly it nosedives.
But I kept watching. The guest stars are always good, from Jimmy Smits to John Lithgow to Colin Hanks. Lauren Vélez’s portrayal of María LaGuerta was excellent, and so of course the show ruined her character and provided her with a horrendously inglorious death. At least the dude who plays Quinn is kind of hot?
Jennifer Carpenter does a good job playing Debra Morgan, who makes increasingly horrendous decisions in service of the adopted brother who is a serial killer, and oh yeah, also the guy she is in love with. Read that sentence out loud! It’s insane!
Meanwhile, the less said about Dexter’s son Harrison, a character the show introduced, was totally uninterested in, and then aged up like five years over the course of a season, the better.
In contrast, can we talk about this moment until the end of time? It was the best.
Ultimately, it’s been sort of fascinating to watch a show that is so rigid in its thinking that its protagonist is a good character when he is thoroughly the worst, and in that way, I can totally understand why my partner suggested this after Game of Thrones. We live in a world where Bran the Broken ended up the goddamn king of Westeros! It’s not that difficult mentally to make the jump from that fictional reality to one in which Dexter fucking Morgan NEVER gets in trouble for anything! It’s the exact kind of unaware TV that I love to mock while watching, but that I’ve kept watching over the course of the past few months. It is not actually good television but it absolutely suits my purposes right now.
Now, I must be honest: I watched seasons one through four, skipped five entirely, watched the end of six, and have watched the entirety of seven and eight so far. I have the penultimate episode to go and the series finale tonight, and then it’s time to find another not-great show that I can binge for hours at a time while I turn off my brain. And I guess what I’m asking is: Got any suggestions?
What show did you watch that you knew was bad but you stayed devoted to anyway? Convince me! And you can’t just say The Walking Dead, because that is another show that I devoted many years of my life to before finally quitting, but then Brian’s recaps here and Dustin’s coverage at Uproxx drew me back in! But anything else you can make a case for, I am all ears! Meet me in the comments!
Header Image Source: Showtime
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