The SNL Sketch that Ate Homeland


I've never taken the time to write about a Saturday Night Live sketch. Commenting about parody seems like an exercise in preposterous meta-analysis. But reader, I cannot lie. SNL's Homeland spoof has pretty much ruined the show for me.

It's possible that the sketch just happened to coincide with a downturn in the show's believability and quality, but with every passing episode, the parody forces me to question whether the show was ever that good.

Few would ever have described the show as a soap opera, but as the sketch perfectly conveyed, maybe that's what Homeland is, and if not, it's certainly heading that direction, as it spends more and more time on Brody and Carrie's "romance" ("It's ok! It doesn't have to make sense! She's bipolar"). As a soap opera, it utterly fails, covering up its inability to craft convincing relationships in cloaks and daggers.

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In season one, the relationship between Brody and Carrie made a most peculiar sense, as it was entirely premised on discovery. But now there's at least one scene a week which conveys how strongly Carrie wants Brody to leave his family, of how she's willing to compromise missions to save him, of how her love saves him from the edge (lately, we're getting all three of these in every episode).

This has the double effect of reducing the stakes of the ongoing terror plot (it's ok! Love will save us all!) and of infantilizing the moral questions that plague Brody.


I'm especially concerned after the twist reveal that Estes ordered Quinn to murder Brody after they stopped the terror plot. The preview indicated that Saul would resolve the issue with thoughtful machinations, but I predict a mess of hysteria and chin-quivering.

If Homeland dials up the emotions to 11 in every single episode, it risks distracting the viewer from what actually made it interesting - how circumstances warp our ideas of morality, and how that mutation affects not just our own lives, but the lives of those around us.

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