Dexter the Serial Killer

December 14th, 2008

If you’ve never seen the Showtime series Dexter, try watching a couple of episodes.  Dexter Morgan is a serial killer of a different kind.  He operates under a strict personal code which permits him to kill only other killers who have escaped justice.  His father, who adopted him after a horrific childhood experience, was a police officer.  He recognized the compulsion Dexter struggled with as a child, and he knew where it was inevitably going.  So he taught Dexter how to kill without getting caught and instilled in him a finely-tuned moral sense that guides his selection of victims.  Moral ambiguity, anyone?

Speaking of which, this is definitely not a show for kids.  It challenges all concepts of right and wrong, to include justifying vengeance as a visceral reaction to evil.  In fact, I wouldn’t recommend Dexter for anyone with less than a fully developed psyche capable of defending itself–say, anyone under about 35.  

Dexter, like The Sopranos from HBO, is a product of cable TV, which consistently produces higher-quality programming than the tired old broadcast networks.  In time, Dexter will most likely join The Sopranos on the short list of the best TV series ever produced.

If nothing else, watch it for the greatest title sequence ever. 

If you’d like to read more about Dexter, Matthew Gilbert has written an excellent review in Slate.

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