'Homeland' may avoid Muslim terrorist storyline in season 5
Showtime’s Homeland might find a new threat to focus on for season 5.
The network’s president, David Nevins, says the show’s writer-producer Alex Gansa might find a fresh antagonist for CIA case officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) to tackle when the show returns later this year. But the executive also firmly emphasized a decision has not yet been made and the story’s villain will be chosen for creative reasons— and to avoid repetition— rather than the recent terror attacks in Europe.
“Where they’re going to go next year is a little bit up in the air,” Nevins told critics at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Monday. “We’re not necessarily going to stay now and forever [focusing on] U.S. relations in the Muslim world. It’s a show ultimately about U.S. foreign policy, U.S. intelligence in the 21st century at a very difficult time. So we’re exploring a few different possibilities and may change it up a little bit.”
Later, during an off-stage huddle with reporters, the executive added: “The real franchise of the show is how difficult it is to be America in the world in the 21st century, how difficult the choices are. I think that’s a story that will remain relevant for as long as they can come up with new stories. It could be Africa, it could be Europe, it could be back in another place in the Middle East. I don’t expect that show to fall into a formula. I can see it coming back to the U.S. at some point.”
Referencing the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France and North Korea’s alleged hacking of Sony, Nevins noted that “it’s a bit of a scary time to be a maker of controversial, political truth. It’s been a bad month for free speech around the world.”
Yet in terms of Homeland—which is based on an Israeli format and has focused on Muslim extremists and Middle East terrorists since it launched in 2011—the executive said that none of the current attacks will prevent the show from tackling sensitive international issues. “I hope [the attacks are] not considered at all,” he said. “I really, really don’t want there to be any limitations. I don’t expect there will be. They never shied away from anything difficult. I want them to go right into the teeth of it again.”
Homeland was criticized by officials in Pakistan and Israel for its most recent season. Pakistan officials complained about how their country was depicted as a war-torn “hellhole” that secretly helps terrorists, while Israel objected to a line of dialogue about a former Prime Minister.
“I thought the Pakistani embassy handled it the way they were supposed to handle it,” Nevins said. “They made a statement through the press representing their side. That’s how the game is supposed to be played. It seems like the substance of their complaints is the U.S. and Pakistani [governments] have a very long and successful relationship and they’re united in the battle against terror—all of which are true. Some of the other sides [to Pakistan] the show brought up I think are also very defensible.”
Gansa is embarking on a fact-finding trip to D.C. later this month, Nevins said. The showrunner typically interviews Washington insiders and real-life intelligence operatives before deciding each season’s narrative to bring more authenticity to the program. When Gansa returns, he’ll lay out his plan for season 5. “It’s a very well researched show,” Nevins said. “We spent a lot of time in Washington last year. We’re going back to Washington in January. With that said, it’s a work of fiction. I’m very defensive of their rights to tell difficult stories in difficult parts of the world.” — Natalie Abrams contributed to this report