Recently, I and my significant other have become addicted to a neat little show called “Dexter”, a television series on Showtime in the U.S. which has gathered some pretty rave reviews, but which most people still don’t know about (as opposed to “CSI” or “Heroes” or “House”). That fact causes a bit of emotional conflict really: on one hand, I think this show deserves a lot more attention than its been getting, but on the other hand, I’m quite certain that if its profile were any higher, you’d have (in this country at least) concerned citizen’s groups moving to ban the show and burn every DVD of it available, legal and illegal alike. You see, for those of you who don’t know Dexter, the eponymous lead character of the show, is a serial killer – albeit one whose particular fetish involves killing other serial killers.
The key to making the series work as a character drama and, for us at least, a black comedy of sorts, is Dexter’s inner monologue and, to an extent, the often incongruous soundtrack that accompanies what would otherwise be disturbing moments of calculated violence. Its hard, for example, to get all choked up over one of Dexter’s victims when one hears cheerful samba music playing the background. It’s the focus on Dexter’s internal thought process that I find really enjoyable in the show however, as we get really an outsider’s view of normal life, and all the spoken and unspoken social rules with which we order our lives. Normal people… puzzle Dexter, and in this I think lies the reason why I find him to be such a sympathetic character.
People, and the routines of life in general actually, are in fact… quite puzzling. There are games we play with each other, acknowledged signs and countersigns we make so that we are able to make situations fit a template, in order to deal with other people piece by piece rather than as a whole. Its much easier to interact with Juan as the Boss rather than Juan as the bundle of memories, regrets, desires and neurosis’ that Juan sees in the mirror everyday – unless he’s playing his own game with himself, which is likely.
There are people who go their whole lives following these rules without knowing about them at all. Others on the other hand, have no idea what these rules are – every situation is new, unique and frightening. Then there are the people, like myself, who see the rules, and have to decide for themselves whether to conform or not.
Honestly? I have no idea which group got the short end of the stick.