Homeland is an American television series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim (English title: Prisoners of War) created by Gideon Raff.
The series stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a Central Intelligence Agency officer with bipolar disorder, and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, a United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper. Mathison has come to believe that Brody, who was held captive by al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war, was “turned” by the enemy and now threatens the United States.
The series is broadcast in the U.S. on the cable channel Showtime, and is produced by Fox 21. It premiered on October 2, 2011.The first episode was made available online, more than two weeks before television broadcast, with viewers having to complete game tasks to gain access. The series has been renewed for a third season of 12 episodes, which will premiere on September 29, 2013.
The series has received critical acclaim, and has won several awards, including the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, and the 2011 and 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama, as well as the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes respectively.
The series follows Carrie Mathison, a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who, after conducting an unauthorized operation in Iraq, is put on probation and reassigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center in Langley, Virginia. In Iraq, Carrie was warned by an asset that an American prisoner of war had been turned by al-Qaeda.
Carrie’s job grows complicated when her boss, Director of the Counterterrorism Center David Estes, calls Carrie and her colleagues in for an emergency briefing. Carrie learns that Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine Sergeant who had been reported as missing in action since 2003, has been rescued during a Delta Force raid on a compound belonging to terrorist Abu Nazir. Carrie comes to believe that Brody is the American prisoner of war whom her asset in Iraq was talking about. However, the federal government and her superiors at the CIA consider Brody a war hero.
Realizing it would be nearly impossible to convince her boss to place Brody under surveillance, Carrie approaches the only other person she can trust, her mentor Saul Berenson. The two must now work together to investigate Brody and prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.
Main article: List of Homeland characters
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA intelligence officer assigned to the Counterterrorism Center. She suffers from bipolar disorder and believes Brody to be a terrorist when he returns to the U.S.
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, a Congressman and retired U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant (formerly Sergeant) who was rescued by Delta Force after being held by al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war for eight years. Carrie’s lover.
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Carrie’s mentor and the CIA’s Middle-East Division Chief.
Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody, Brody’s wife who struggles to adjust with his return to her life. She cheated on her husband with Mike.
David Harewood as David Estes (seasons 1–2), the director of the CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center, Carrie’s boss. The two have a tumultuous relationship due to her aggressive way of working and the suggestion of a past sexual relationship between them.
Diego Klattenhoff as Mike Faber, a U.S. Marine Major (formerly Captain). He was Brody’s best friend who, assuming Brody was dead, began a relationship with his wife, Jessica.
Jamey Sheridan as William Walden (recurring season 1, starring season 2), Vice President of the United States and a former director of the CIA.
David Marciano as Virgil (recurring season 1, starring season 2), a freelance surveillance expert and former CIA employee whom Carrie enlists for the surveillance of Brody.
Navid Negahban as Abu Nazir (recurring season 1, starring season 2), a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda.
Jackson Pace as Chris Brody, Brody’s son.
Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody, Brody’s daughter.
Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn (recurring season 2, starring season 3), a CIA analyst and assassin.
Hrach Titizian as Danny Galvez, a CIA officer of Guatemalan and Lebanese origin.
Chris Chalk as Tom Walker, a U.S. Marine who was captured along with Brody.
Amy Hargreaves as Maggie Mathison, Carrie’s sister and a psychiatrist.
Maury Sterling as Max, Virgil’s brother aiding in the surveillance of Brody.
Taylor Kowalski as Xander, Dana’s boyfriend.
James Rebhorn as Frank Mathison, Carrie’s father.
Timothee Chalamet as Finn Walden, Vice President Walden’s son and Dana’s love interest.
Zuleikha Robinson as Roya Hammad, Brody’s handler for Abu Nazir.
Based on Gideon Raff’s Israeli series Hatufim, Homeland was developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa in early 2010. The two had previously worked together on the similarly-themed series 24. On September 19, 2010, Showtime placed a pilot order for Homeland as the first project David Nevins had undertaken since leaving Imagine Entertainment to become president of Showtime. Gordon, Gansa and Raff wrote the pilot, Michael Cuesta directed the pilot, with Gordon, Gansa, Raff, Avi Nir, and Ran Telem serving as executive producers.
On April 7, 2011, Showtime green-lit the series with an order of 12 episodes.It was announced that Chip Johannessen would join the series as a co-executive producer, while Michael Cuesta, who had served as the director on the pilot, would join the series as an executive producer.
On July 21, 2011, at the San Diego Comic-Con, Showtime announced that the series would premiere on October 2, 2011. Along with the announcement of the premiere date for the series, the network also announced that the names of the characters portrayed by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis had been renamed Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody, from Carrie Anderson and Scott Brody, respectively. The series is produced by Fox 21.
Casting announcements began in November 2010, with Claire Danes first to be cast. Danes portrays Carrie Mathison, “a driven CIA officer battling her own psychological demons.” Next to join the series was Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, “the smart and politically savvy CIA Division Chief … who is Carrie’s main champion in the intelligence upper echelon and her sounding board.” Laura Fraser was initially cast as Jessica Brody, “Nick Brody’s smart, strong wife.”, but after the pilot Fraser was replaced by Morena Baccarin. Next to join the series were Damian Lewis and David Harewood, with Lewis playing Brody, “who returns home after spending eight years as a prisoner of war in Baghdad”, while Harewood was cast as David Estes, “a rising star in the CIA, Carrie’s boss … is the youngest director of the Counterterrorism Center in the Agency’s history.” Diego Klattenhoff, Morgan Saylor, and Jackson Pace were the last actors to join the main cast, with Klattenhoff playing Mike Faber, “Brody’s close friend and fellow Marine, Mike Faber was convinced that Brody was dead, which is how he justified falling in love with Brody’s wife Jessica”, Saylor playing Dana Brody, “The Brodys’ oldest child”, and Pace playing Chris Brody, “Nick and Jessica’s eager-to-please, self-conscious thirteen year-old son.”
It was later announced that Jamey Sheridan, Navid Negahban, Amir Arison, and Brianna Brown had joined the series as recurring guest stars. Sheridan was cast as the Vice President of the United States, Negahban was cast as Abu Nazir, with Arison playing Prince Farid Bin Abbud and Brown playing Lynne Reed.
The series is filmed in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. The location was chosen because of film tax credits, and the atmosphere matches nearby Virginia and Washington, D.C., where the series takes place. Production claims it is easier to get around the area’s smaller town atmosphere rather than in large cities where filming typically occurs. Another frequent setting is nearby Mooresville. Executive producer Michael Cuesta said Mooresville is “played for quite a few rural-type one-stoplight main-street type of towns.”
The Brody family house is in Mountainbrook, a Charlotte neighborhood near SouthPark Mall. Queens University of Charlotte is Morgan’s college. CIA headquarters is Cambridge Corporate Center in University Research Park. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the Ritz-Carlton, the old courthouse and Zack’s Hamburger’s in Charlotte, as well as Rural Hill in Huntersville and Lake Norman, have also served as filming locations.
Production for season two began in May 2012 with the series filming in Israel for two weeks, with the city of Haifa standing in for Beirut. The rest of the season was filmed in Charlotte and Concord, North Carolina.
The first season received near universal acclaim. Metacritic gave it a rating of 91 out of 100 based on the opinions of 28 critics. TV Guide named it the best TV show of 2011 and highly applauded the performances given by Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. Metacritic named Homeland the second-best TV show of 2011, based on aggregating the year-end top-ten lists of a number of major TV critics. The second season also received near universal acclaim, achieving a Metacritic rating of 96 out of 100 from 21 critics..
Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave the pilot episode an A−, saying “What makes Homeland rise above other post-9/11 dramas is Danes’s stellar performance as Carrie—easily this season’s strongest female character,” and that “The latter half of the first episode is exhilarating. I’m hooked.” Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe gave it a solid A grade, and said it was his favorite drama pilot of the season. Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker gave it an A−, stating “It’s the fall season’s most intriguing, tense puzzler.” IGN TV gave it a positive review, saying that it was an “ace thriller” that also managed to have something to say about the “War on Terror”. The seventh episode, “The Weekend”, received overwhelming critical acclaim and was described by both the creators of the show and Damian Lewis as a “watershed” episode. However, Greg Dixon of The New Zealand Herald criticized Homeland’s thin plotting, Danes’s “insane levels of overacting”, and Lewis’s “passivity”.
U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Homeland, and is also known to be a fan of the show.
The original broadcast of the pilot episode on October 2, 2011, received 1.08 million viewers, becoming Showtime’s highest-rated drama premiere in eight years. The episode received a total of 2.78 million viewers with additional broadcasts and on demand views. The final episode of season one received 1.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched season finale of any first-year Showtime series.
The series has also performed well in the UK, where it airs on Channel 4. The pilot episode drew 2.2 million viewers and the season one finale drew 2.8 million viewers. Yet, season two saw a drop in viewership, with the season two premiere drawing in 2.3 million viewers, but the finale only 2.1 million.
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Homeland
In its debut season, the series received several industry awards and nominations. The series was recognized with a Peabody Award in April 2012 describing the series as “a game of cat and mouse, a psychological thriller and a Rorschach test of post-9/11 doubts, fears and suspicions rolled into one.” At the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received nine nominations winning six awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, Claire Danes for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Damian Lewis for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the pilot episode. The series also won awards for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.
At the 69th Golden Globe Awards, the series won the award for Best Television Series – Drama, and Claire Danes won for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, with Damian Lewis receiving a nomination for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. At the 70th Golden Globe Awards, the series won its second consecutive award for Best Television Series – Drama, Danes won again for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, and Lewis won for Best Actor – Television Series Drama, after being nominated the previous year.
In October 2012 the Lebanese government was reportedly planning to sue the show’s producers, asserting misrepresentation of Hamra Street in Beirut, Lebanon. Specifically, in the second episode of the second season “Beirut Is Back”, the street was shown as a narrow alleyway with militia roaming and associated with terrorist activity. In reality, the Lebanese government says, it is a bustling modern hub of cafes and bars. The Minister of Tourism Fadi Abboud said he would take legal action over the “lies”, saying “Beirut is one of the most secure capitals in the world, more secure than London or New York.” In what Iran’s Press TV called an “odd coincidence” with Homeland, and what Britain’s The Guardian pointed out was consistent with the Homeland portrayal that the Lebanese government complained about, a few days later a bomb exploded in Beirut killing Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan. Although Homeland’s co-creator, Gideon Raff, is Israeli and thus forbidden from entering Lebanon, Abboud also protested the filming of episodes in Israel rather than Lebanon.
In an article for Salon, Laila al-Arian called the show the most Islamophobic show on television, accused it of portraying Muslims under the light of simplistic concepts and as a monolithic, single-minded group whose only purpose is to hurt Americans, and basing the Brody character on “pseudo-psychology that only an audience conditioned by the Islamophobic, anti-Arab tropes in our media could find him consistent.” She further criticizes the show for fanning hysteria of Muslim “infiltration” of America; poor mastering of even basic Arabic; misrepresentation of Islamic and Arab culture; and simplifying the politics of militant Islamic organizations, for instance by conflating groups that in real life are rivals. In the show, for example, Hezbollah is portrayed as being close to Abu Nazir, an al-Qaeda operative who seeks to attack U.S. targets, even though Hezbollah has not in real life demonstrated an interest in attacking U.S. soil, and is an opponent of al-Qaeda, with which it has exchanged threats.
Rachel Shabi, a commentator of the Middle East, has opined that Homeland’s take on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East does little more than defend the talking points of its advocates, presenting even U.S. violence against civilians as “necessary acts in pursuit of far worse crimes”.
In Canada, it premiered on Super Channel on November 1, 2011. In Norway, it premiered on TV 2 on November 21, 2011. It debuted in Sweden on SVT1 on November 23, 2011. In the Netherlands, it debuted on BNN on January 1, 2012. It premiered in Ireland on January 13, 2012, airing on RTÉ. In Portugal, it premiered on FOX on January 16, 2012. It premiered in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2012 on Channel 4. In Hong Kong it airs on TVB Pearl and premiered on April 6, 2012. In Switzerland, it premiered on September 23, 2012, airing on RTS Un. It premiered in Germany on ProSiebenSat.1 on February 3, 2013.