Fans and critics alike received popular television series Homeland with open arms last year as Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody) and Clare Danes (Carrie Mathison) collected Emmy awards for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress.
The show also saw off the likes of AMC’s Breaking Bad and HBO’s Game of Thrones to take home the mantle of Outstanding Drama Series.
Therefore coming into its second series, Homeland and Showtime were on top of the television world, and could do no wrong, right? Wrong. The opening episodes of the second series are arguably very anti-Islam and very pro-Republican with numerous examples to choose from.
With Brody having increased status, and arguably an increased wage due to being a Congressman, his daughter is sent to a new private school and whilst engaging in a debate regarding American treatment of Middle Eastern countries, blurts out that her dad is a Muslim.
This is laughed off as a joke and one of the world’s key faiths is compared to Scientology. Of course, viewers of the show will be aware that Brody is indeed a Muslim, but why is this laughable? Is there something funny or wrong with being a Muslim?
When Brody’s wife, Jess, learns of this revelation she is reduced to tears. She then proceeds to claim that “it can’t happen” and is utterly disrespectful of Islam by launching Brody’s Qur’an to the floor and desecrating the holy book.
Jess’ portrayal in the show, as an innocent, hardworking, suburban Mum, would suggest to many that this behaviour is acceptable, which cannot be further from the truth. Also, why can Brody believing and practicing Islam “not happen”? Is it illegal?
Having said this, Showtime try to salvage some credibility at the end of the episode, and Brody and his daughter Dana respect Islam practices by wrapping the Qur’an in cloth and burying it in the ground. However, even this practice isn’t acknowledged to the full extent as the Qur’an is buried in his back garden, which is not holy ground and is likely to be trampled upon.
Homeland treads a very fine line with its portrayal of Islam. On top of this, Showtime appears to convey a pro-Republican message in the second episode of the new season.
Barack Obama is seen in the opening credits for every episode and therefore could lead viewers to believe that when the fictional characters refer to “the President”, they are referring to Obama.
Therefore when the fictional vice-President claims that “the President isn’t protecting his country, he’s just riding out his term”, one cannot help but link this to the current political situation across the Atlantic, where Obama is in a rigorous re-election process, facing stiff competition from Mitt Romney.
Give Homeland as many positive reviews as you like and hand Showtime as many Emmy’s as you like too, but as much as one enjoys the show, it must seriously reconsider and re-evaluate its attitude towards and portrayal of Islam.
Make up your own mind, and tune in at 9pm every Sunday, Channel 4.