We’re back to crime tv this week with the lovable Dexter. Now here’s a killer you can’t help but root for.
I know Dexter is super famous and most people have already seen it, but a point of these recs is to talk about things with a high rewatch value, so go forth and put Dexter on again. It’s been a long time since it finished anyway, how long has it been since you watched it?
Starting in 2006 and finishing its 8-season run in 2013, Dexter stars Michael C. Hall as the titular character Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter analyst by day and vigilante killer by night. It’s the best of both worlds here in Dexter’s Miami.
At the time, the premise was fresh and intriguing enough to attract a horde of fans, and the show’s charismatic and captivating cast, coupled with the eerie mysteries and masterful writing, made it a cult hit. To me, Dexter opened the door to the interest in killer protagonists, or at least ones we’re meant to side with.
And the secret to that lies in Dexter’s choice of victims. He doesn’t kill just any random person, but bad guys he carefully vets courtesy of his police credentials. His kills are careful, ritualistic and violent enough to satisfy the killer in him, but responsible and well-meaning just as his father taught him. If he can’t control his urges, the least he could do is use them for good, right? This isn’t as clear cut as Dexter would hope though, because good drama means conflict, and it means things not going the way they’re supposed to, so his carefully constructed life and plans begin to crumble throughout the show, progression which is great to watch.
What’s especially interesting is how Dexter sets out to convince us he’s a psycho, he doesn’t have feelings, he just pretends so he can survive and not be caught, which makes it that much more endearing when he starts a family with Rita (Julie Benz), the girl he only started dating to seem normal but whom he ended up deeply caring for. He even has a son, Harrison, with her. Apart from his romantic adventures (let’s just say Rita’s not the only one he ends up involved with), he also shows he’s capable of caring for his sister, Debra (also working for the police), Rita’s kids from a previous marriage, and his colleagues on the force. It’s his bonds with these people that make Dexter stronger as a character, but also force him into conflict and trouble throughout the story.
In its 8-season run, the show builds up its cast and their stories expertly (we’re ignoring the finale), with every character having the potential to be a favorite. Debra especially, with her constant swearing and eager sense for justice, becomes such a great character over the years, a loving, strong woman without whom Dexter and the show wouldn’t work half as well.
Speaking of, the guest characters, namely the Seasons’ Main Villains, are just exceptional. Season 1’s Ice Truck Killer is just so creative, his story, motivation, appearance, and meaning for the show being top notch for a first season and paving the way for such a great continuation. He certainly sets the standard for Dexter’s rivals, and the ones who come next don’t disappoint. The Doomsday Killer and Trinity Killer especially left an impression on me (Trinity’s song just gives me the heebie jeebies even now).
Even from the suggestive intro, Dexter just sucks you in. The procedural aspect of the show, coupled with the longer, season-length stories, and Dexter’s personal life is the perfect combination for an amazing show. Take it from me, I once watched it for literally an entire day (yeah, I even took it with me to the bathroom).
It does have its flaws too though (ahem, series finale, ahem), but I think there’s so much of it that is so good, you can ignore the bad. With that said, be warned that it gets weird at one point (like, technically incest weird), and it’s quite graphic, so if that’s not your cup of tea, don’t watch it just because it’s hyped up.
In all, Dexter is one of those shows you just can’t help but appreciate. It paved the way for lovable serial killer stories with its clever selection of targets, and its stories will keep you watching 8 seasons like it’s nothing. It’s already been 7 years since it ended, but it’s still such a strong element in popular culture, with people still missing it to this day. You could say it’s an oldie, but it’s for sure stayed a goldie for all these years. Go ahead and give it a (re)watch, you won’t regret it.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and see you next week!