Book By Book
In honor of Halloween coming up and my RIP XI Challenge (Peril on the Screen), I thought I would talk about an older show that my husband and I have been watching lately. Dexter aired on Showtime from 2006 – 2013. My husband and I watch it when we are camping together because we have it on DVD (it was one of our older son's favorites a few years back), so we can watch an episode on my laptop at night in our little camper, even without electricity or internet.
Dexter is a very odd show, but it really grows on you. The main character, boyishly handsome Dexter Morgan, is a serial killer…and he's the protagonist, the one you root for! Yes, you will root for him, even if you don't think so now…
Dexter, played by Michael C. Hall, works as a forensic blood specialist, analyzing blood spatter at crime scenes and other blood-related forensics work for the Miami police department. His sister, Deb (played by Jennifer Carpenter), also works for the police department as a detective, following in the footsteps of their father. Dexter was adopted into the family when he was just four years old, so he and Deb grew up like real siblings and are quite close (or as close as Dexter is to anyone).
In reality, you know from his narration from the very first episode, that Dexter is a psychopath who has difficulty feeling real emotions or relating to other people normally. He loves Deb in his own way, though. He also has a sweet girlfriend named Rita, played by Julie Benz. Rita is damaged in her own way from a past abusive relationship, so she and Dexter get along well. She doesn't expect much from him – in fact, is often apologizing for not being ready to move things along faster – and he is fine with that. She has two adorable little kids, a girl and a boy, and they adore Dexter, who is playful & caring with them.
And, yeah, Dexter is a serial killer. However, he is a serial killer with a strict moral code – he only kills really bad guys who kill other people. He calls it the Code of Harry, after his adopted father, a police detective, who carefully trained Dexter. He could see at an early age that Dexter had these urges inside of him and so taught him to release that pressure and allow himself to kill only in a very specific, controlled way (and also, so as to not get caught). It was his way of protecting Dexter, the only way he could. We see that training gradually unfold in flashbacks.
Dexter has most of the people around him fooled – no one suspects that this easy-going, funny guy is really a cold-hearted killer underneath. Well, one person suspects something is wrong: Detective Doakes, played by Erik King, works in Homicide (with Deb and Dexter). Doakes is creeped out by Dexter and is certain he is hiding something sinister underneath his mild-mannered appearance. Dexter can't believe he's the only one creeped out by him when he is surrounded by homicide detectives!
That's the general outline of the show: Dexter helps to solve murders by day and commits them by night, leading a double life. But the crazy thing is that within a few episodes – and definitely by the end of the first season when you know more about Dexter's background – you actually like him. While you may not be rooting for him to kill again (though the people he kills are truly evil), you do hope he doesn't get caught and/or can maybe heal somehow and pull his life together.
This show definitely belongs in the creepy category for RIP XI this month because not only is it about a serial killer, but it can be pretty gory at times. I admit to covering my eyes during some scenes! The opening credits alone will creep you out (not gory, just creepy)! In between, though, it's similar to a typical detective show. Much of its appeal is due to the fact that the cast is excellent. Hall as Dexter manages to be both likable and creepy, Carpenter is fabulous as his sister (and we enjoyed her last year in the Limitless TV show), and the supporting cast are all great, especially David Zayas as Detective Angel Batista. The writing is also top-notch: realistic, engaging, and even funny.
On our last camping trip two weeks ago, we finished season 1 and watched the first episode of season 2 (it's a real cliff-hanger!), and we are totally hooked now.
You can watch all seven seasons of Dexter on Netflix streaming, on DVD, or for free on Amazon Prime or Showtime if you have a Showtime subscription (otherwise you can buy it on Amazon Prime).
Have you watched Dexter? What's your favorite creepy TV show?