Saturday, October 17, 2015

Homeland, Season 5

Many aspects of popular culture in the English-speaking world today appear to have been crafted to erect an invisible wall keeping us locked within our localised realities. Even the travel shows appear to whispering 'stay at home' subliminally. 
Some people have quipped that Homeland has the wrong title for a show now seemingly set anywhere but the terra firma of mainstream American life. But that would be to miss the clear underlying, reverse-psychology payload of a show that wants its viewers to understand that in foreign parts only the US embassy and its associated compounds are secure - and as as we saw in Season 4 back in the 'hell-hole' that is Karachi, sometimes not even them. 
This time out Carrie has been visiting Beirut, one of the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan urban environments around the Mediterranean, here depicted as marginally less attractive as a weekend break destination than say Kabul or Mogadishu. Along the way even Berlin has been receiving obliquely some of that Stephen Fry in Central America treatment. 
In this sense 'Homeland' represents the full about-turn within the modern espionage genre, for which distant locations always used to be 'exotic' and 'exciting', but now these adjectives seem to habitually carry the hidden suffix 'dangerous' in parentheses. 
I'm looking forward to 007's forthcoming jolly in Mexico City, because the Bond franchise is still grounded in its ancient 'anywhere but dreary London' premise, and still doesn't quite push the message that a license to kill is probably a prerequisite for any form of travel to the Latin America or the Middle East.