Netflix and Kill: Binge-watching Dexter

It would be an understatement to say that I dislike gore. Yet I found it difficult to focus on coming up with a topic for this post because I was preoccupied binge-watching Dexter on Netflix. And so my obsession found me.

Even those of us who didn’t have Showtime between 2006 and 2013 know that Dexter is about a serial killer who kills other serial killers. The show is set in Miami and follows the life of the titular character Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department. Each season is centered around one big homicide case, each episode around one of Dexter’s kills.

Dexter is a crime drama with elements of horror. The first season is based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, though the show and the book series went on to evolve independently. Dexter stars Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, and James Remar among others. The show often features season-long guest appearances. Some notables are Keith Carradine, Jimmy Smits, John Lithgow, and Johnny Lee Miller.

Bloody fingersDexter’s success stems from the crafting of its main character – an anti-hero with a dash of tragic hero. The show uses flashbacks to delve into Dexter’s backstory in seasons one and two. This allows the audience to understand how he came to be the way that he is today. We witness the birth of Dexter’s Dark Passenger – the name he has given to his inner need to kill. We see the establishment of the Code of Harry and Dexter’s struggle to live within it while following his own path.

Dexter’s channeling of the Dark Passenger to commit acts of vigilantism rather than of senseless murder further wins the audience. Society may condemn vigilantes, but audiences love them. Look at Robin Hood and Batman. They’re both iconic stories that are named after their vigilante main characters. Dexter is to serial killers what Robin Hood is to thieves and Batman is to the criminally insane.

What is most endearing about the character of Dexter is that he considers himself to be a monster while trying so hard to be a hero. In many ways he is a hero. He kills murderers who would have gone on to kill more innocent people. Dexter voices this argument throughout the show but always as an explanation, not a justification. To him, he is a monster.

Bloody smearI would recommend Dexter even if crime dramas aren’t your cup of tea. This is the type of show that holds a wider appeal to those outside the genre’s typical fan base. Don’t let the gore deter you either. It isn’t as frequent as you would think and you can see it coming in plenty of time to hide your eyes.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Dexter. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive an email each week when I publish a new post.