****WARNING – CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS FROM SERIES 1 &2****
American drama Homeland hit television screens in October 2011 and the public have been talking about it ever since. The intricate, intelligent plotlines and the immensely complicated characters have kept audiences entertained for three seasons, and a fourth season is in the pipeline.
The character of Carrie Mathison in particular; A Central Intelligence Officer who has bipolar disorder, is a force to be reckoned with. Claire Danes has won several awards for this character portrayal, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy.
Here are just a few reasons why Carrie Mathison is a feminist fictional favourite:
- Her analytical skills, instinct and intelligence are remarkable.
Throughout series one and two of Homeland, viewers have been left amazed by Carrie’s skills to decipher evidence and find those responsible for terrorist crimes.
In series one, her incredible year-by-year timeline of terrorist Abu Nazir’s actions (which she completed whilst in the midst of a bipolar episode) helped Carrie and her colleague Saul Berenson with their investigation in to the terrorist’s future plans.
2. She consistently challenges authority, even when she knows it will cause employment/emotional backlash.
When Carrie believes Brody is the ‘turned’ American POW working for Abu Nazir, she organises unauthorised, twenty-four hour video surveillance on him. When Saul ultimately tells her to take down the cameras, Carrie begins physical surveillance on Brody. This leads to a sexual relationship which causes emotional casualties on both sides and almost costs Carrie her career. However, without breaking personal and professional boundaries; Carrie would never have known about Brody’s relationship with Issa, Abu Nazir’s son, or how terrifyingly well Brody is able to pass a lie detector test.
Carrie’s disregard for the C.I.A rulebook is often extreme. In series two she helped Brody escape the boundaries of American law after he was accused of a terrorist crime he did not commit. She is willing to break the law in order to prove Brody’s innocence and her own integrity.
3. She proves that living with a mental health issue like bipolar disorder should not prohibit anyone’s career or personal life.
Carrie kept her bipolar disorder hidden from her C.I.A colleagues for years. She relied on her sister who is a physician, to prescribe her medication to keep her condition under control. After Carrie is injured in a small-scale bomb explosion, she relapses in to a bipolar episode. Saul is sympathetic when he realises what Carrie has been going through; but unfortunately, Carrie’s senior colleague David Estes is not.
The stigma surrounding Carrie’s condition means other senior members of the C.I.A consistently discredit her investigations and instincts; they believe her illness and her affair with Brody have made her theories about Abu Nazir invalid and unreliable. This sadly leads her to question her own sanity and she assigns herself to electro-shock therapy. This is painful to watch for several reasons, but mostly because the viewer knows Carrie is 100% right about Brody’s involvement with Nazir.
However; in series two, Carrie is granted both professional and personal redemption. New evidence reveals that her suspicions about Brody & Nazir have been right all along, and the C.I.A’s ignorance has only escalated the threat. She has a personal showdown with Brody which grants her personal gratification and professional clarity.
4. She gains the trust of women in vulnerable situations, and strives to help them out of danger.
Carrie’s empathy for her female informants is immense. In series one, she is unable to protect Lynne Reed, who is killed in action whilst working for a Saudi Prince. Carrie admits to Saul that her failure to protect Lynne has affected her deeply.
In series two, Carrie’s Beirut informant Fatima Ali (the wife of a Hezbollah commander Abbas Ali, who is linked to Abu Nazir) asks her for government protection in exchange for her vital information. Carrie keeps this promise, which she is only able to do because of the lengthy, trustworthy relationship she has built with Fatima throughout her career. Carrie risks life and limb in a thrilling chase through Beirut to acquire evidence of Fatima’s husband’s involvement with Nazir, which proves both her professional integrity and secures Fatima’s safety.
These few examples are enough to justify Carrie Mathison’s place on the fictional favourites list. For further justification, invest in the Homeland DVD boxset; you won’t be disappointed.