Spoiler Alert: I'm going to rant about the ending of this season's Homeland. If you haven't seen it, please don't read ahead. You'll end up being more disappointed than I am now—if that's possible.
I liked Homeland. For three years, I've been fascinated by Claire Danes' portrayal of the complex Carrie Mathison, a bi-polar CIA agent who struggles with her desire for justice, her ambition, her patriotism, her family, her love for a married man and her illness.
I had high hopes for the ending of this season despite the fact that Danes has been overdoing the eye-rolling, the barely-repressed weeping, and the chin-jiggling for the last several episodes; she was getting annoying, but she was still playing a dynamic, independent and fiercely intelligent character. (Part of what reassured me was that a smart friend pointed out that sometimes this overindulgence happens when stars are made producers of their own programs.) I figured Danes earned the right to indulge, right? She's terrific in the role and who wouldn't cry if her lover was a terroritst, or wasn't a terrorist and everybody thought he was? Plus she was off her meds and if you mess with your meds, weird things happen.
But two other things happened over the course of this season: the amazingly compelling actor, Damien Lewis who played her maybe-terrorist lover Nicholas Brody, was absent from many of the episodes and we discovered that Carrie is pregnant.
Lewis, a British actor who never once sounded like a Brit (which is enough to get him an armful of awards, as far as I'm concerned—usually you can hear some kind of betrayal of a man's origins but Lewis was always a Yank and earned full marks), offered the spark that ignited Danes' character. Without him, she was as damp as kindling in a marsh. She was mushy. Now that he's gone, I fear she's going to stay mushy.
And she's going to be a mom. Seriously? The writers for the series decided to make Carrie a mother? It's not enough that she's going to be bureau chief in Turkey? It's not enough that she's going to continue wrestling with world politics, her illness, the forces of evil disguised as patriotism and the underground battlefields of counter-intelligence? She now has to figure out how to use a Baby Bjorn—which is, apparently, something she can't figure out how to do on her own but must rely on her sister's instruction to teach her?
Carrie must be made to learn that motherhood will be the biggest battle of all the one's she's ever faced and that she MUST do it because...
Umm, because her sister and Daddy think she should? Check. Because she'll be a great Mom, despite being abandoned as a baby herself? Check. Because she's moving to another country with a high-level job upon which the fates of nations will depend and has no reliable child-care arrangement? Check. Because she already writes on walls with Sharpies just like a toddler, and shows other kinds of excellent judgment? Check plus.
It's as if motherhood is the ultimate test for any woman. As Carrie's father insists, if she can take two tours of Baghdad, why shouldn't she be able to handle this? He says it with a certain levity. But the implication is also that if she can't handle motherhood, her other accomplishments dwindle to meaninglessness.
According to Homeland, it's no longer enough to fight for your mother country to be considered a heroine. You have to be a mother when you do it. Women not only still have to be everything , they have to be everything all at once.
C'mon, Carrie. You can put the Sharpie down now. I'm done.