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Monday, October 09, 2006

Dexter (S1-EP2)

This week on Dexter, our hero/villain hunts down a serial DUI murderer while trying to figure out who put the doll limbs in his freezer. His sister finally gets assigned to homicide, much to the chagrin of her boss. The more I see of this show, the more I like it. Dexter adds depth to its titular character by analyzing what it must be like to be a sociopath (i.e. to not be able to empathize with others). Dexter has difficulty relating to anyone, cannot feel erotic love for his girlfriend, cannot feel sympathy for the victims of crimes he solves every day. Or can he? Once in a while, Dexter experiences twinges of sensations that seem foreign to him (yet human to us). Could it be that Dexter is learning to be more human? This posits a fascinating question that often arises in developmental psychology: is a person’s personality malleable in adulthood, or is it forever written in stone? Is it possible to teach empathy? Most researchers say no, but it is an interesting topic to explore on TV nonetheless. Dexter has a lot going for it: good performances, clever writing and the coolest opening credits since Carnivale. Of course, it’s too early to tell if it has staying power, but I predict that it will have at least one excellent season; and on Showtime, that is pretty much the standard.


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