Hey, 'Homeland': We're Going to Need You to Make Dana More Likable
Homeland Homeland Homeland. It's back! Aren't you so excited? You should be! I am. Only, yeah, the Homeland Season 3 premiere was sort of the definition of underwhelming — made so largely by the inclusion of Dana Brody. I know, I know: we all kinda-sorta hate Dana Brody. And yes, we feel quite guilty about that, considering that her life sucks. But listen, Homeland producers: if you're going to try and make her our "look at how this affects the young normals!" heart center, you're going to need to make her a hell of a lot more likable.
First thing's first: we are, in principle, sympathetic to Dana Brody, because her life is the fucking worst. I mean really: her dad is a terrorist, her mother is a disassociated mess of a human, and she's just come off accidentally murdering a woman with her then-boyfriend, the former Vice President's son. And he won't even talk to her anymore! Thank goodness she has some friends to lean on — oh wait. No, no she doesn't. She gave up her one true friend/former boyfriend Xander because he was a perceived "bad influence" because AHHH MARIJUANA! So, you know, between all that and the attempted suicide bit, things are hard. Really, unimaginably hard for Dana Brody.
But I still don't like her. And that's the problem.
There's no reason a young teen girl who's undergone so much batshit crazy hardship should be this hated. And yet, we all pretty much do. It could be argued (easily) that Dana is the most hated person on Homeland and that's really saying something considering her father is a manipulative ginger terrorist. She's selfish, and yes, that is certainly a defense mechanism on her part as someone who's being forced to just survive without being able to process the gravity of her situation.
But that's also not her biggest problem. These are all things an audience can and want to understand and accept — especially in the nuanced ways that could easily go unnoticed on a big, explosive premise show like Homeland.
In order to do that, though, we have to see Dana's internal vulnerabilities a bit more. We have to see her give up and give into the fact that her life is a fucking circus side show, however that plays out for a girl like her. We need to see her understand that all of this is just not OK. Even if she's still neck-deep in victimhood (which, of course she would be), she needs to start looking inward.
Dana's problem has always been that she can't seem to learn from these harrowing things she's dealt with in a constructive way. And sure, she certainly doesn't have the guidance that she needs from her family, or a good frame of reference from her friends (what friends?). But this sort of has to be a nut-up-or-shut-up moment for her, as the world at large seems out to get her and relish her clearly fucked-up existence. And if the show is pushing us in that way, we have to see her open up in some capacity, somewhere, to someone.
Unless they're just turning her into her father's daughter, namely, a terrorist, to which we say: yeah, I could see that. I mean, the girl does have a proven track record for terrorizing an audience.